President Klaus Iohannis issued a stark warning to Romanians on Friday, saying people would die from the novel coronavirus unless people made sacrifices and respected strict military rules.
In a message where he pulled no punches, Iohannis said: „There are very hard weeks ahead which will be critical for Romania’s healthcare system; there will be highly charged emotional moments, which will test our solidarity and unity.”
“We are mourning 116 people. How many more victims will there be? We don’t know.”
On Friday, authorities confirmed 3,183 COVID-19 cases of which 445 were registered in the last 24 hours. The disease has claimed 118 lives.
Urging Romanians to act responsibly to keep the death toll low, Iohannis said it depended „on us for there to be as few as possible. If we don ‘t respect the measures taken by authorities, cases will multiply. Nobody will be safe until we’re all safe.”
Speaking two days ahead of the day when Catholics and Protestants celebrate Palm Sunday, Iohannis told religious Romanians they would not be able to celebrate Easter as usual. Western Christians celebrate Easter on April 12, while for Orthodox Christians, Easter falls on April 19.
“Christ’s resurrection finds the world in a profound crisis. I am making an appeal to Romanians who live abroad to not come home this year for the holidays,” he said. An estimated 3 to 5 million Romanians live abroad and hundreds of thousands return for Easter every year, usually from Spain, Italy and Germany which have been hard-hit by the pandemic.
„It is very important to understand that coming home can be extremely dangerous for you and the people you care about,” he said.
“This year you will be close to your loved ones, but from a distance. It’s the only way to manifest your affection without jeopardizing their health.”
“This time will pass, and we will be able to meet in church again with greater faith, There’s no other way to protect you apart from staying at home and respecting social distancing rules.
„This is the most powerful expression of Christian love. The sacrifices made by each one of us can help stop the infection,” he said.
Addressing Romania’s border police, the president told them: “Your mission is to protect Romanian citizens and that means firmly respecting the law and the military orders. Be vigilent!”
He also called on Romanians to stay at home and keep a distance of 2 meters from another person. “Don’t hug friends, don’t shake hands, wash your hands when you come home.
„Authorities are equipping hospitals with what they need, but we won’t stop the epidemic in hospitals, the virus is spreading in communities.”
„We won’t succeed without solidarity and unity. Together we can win!”