Romania’s health minister fired over pandemic failures

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

Romania’s prime minister on Wednesday fired Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu following weeks of tensions in the ruling coalition on how to handle the pandemic and the deaths Covid-19 patients in hospital fires and other incidents.

Premier Florin Citu appointed deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna as interim health minister, the prime minister said in a statement. The deputy health minister Andreea Moldovan was also fired.

The dismissals come a day after the opposition Social Democrat part submitted a motion of no-confidence against the beleaguered minister.

Mr Voiculescu was heavily criticized after patients were evacuated from a Bucharest hospital in Bucharest in the middle of the night at short notice so it could be transformed into a Covid-19 facility,

Members of the ruling Liberal Party were among his critics. Mr Voiculescu is a member of the junior Save Romanian Union.

In another setback, three Covid-19 patients died on Monday after the oxygen supply at a mobile intensive unit where they were being treated stopped working, shutting down ventilators. Even though the hospital is managed by the city hall, blame fell on the minister.

The last straw apparently was the announcement on Wednesday morning that the government didn’t plan to place Bucharest under lockdown over the Easter holidays.

The prime minister was reportedly irritated that he hadn’t been consulted before making the announcement.

Romania’s ageing and inefficient healthcare system saw two fires in Covid-19 wards in recent months. At least 18 patients died.

He is the second health minister to be dismissed since the pandemic began.

Previous health minister Victor Costache resigned last March after he said that the residents of the capital and all major cities would be tested for the virus. The comments sparked controversy as there was limited testing facilities.


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