Romania’s health minister on Thursday fired the medic in charge of the government’s COVID-19 response after he drafted a secret plan to put millions of elderly people in quarantine and even take away from their families to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
A plan drafted by Adrian Streinu-Cercel, who is the manager of the Matei Bals Infectious Diseases Institute, was leaked to the press and drew a sharp rebuke from Romania’s president and prime minister.
The document which was headline news all weekend, proposed that the over-65s be quarantined for three months and, if necessary, removed from their families to protect them against the coronavirus.
President Klaus Iohannis tore into the project to separate elderly people from their families on Wednesday, describing it as “an aberrant, unacceptable, totalitarian measure.”
He added: “We live in a free society, a society that protects itself from the epidemic. There’s no way we will come forward with such totalitarian measures!”
There are 3.67 million Romanians who are over 65.
Premier Ludovic Orban also pushed for Streinu-Cercel to be removed calling his document “things of such extreme gravity shouldn’t be treated merely with a smile, but with measures.”
Health Minister Nelu Tataru said he had dismissed Streinu-Cercel both as chairman of the ministry’s anti-COVID-19 commission and from the commission itself.
He said Streinu-Cercel “didn’t object.” But Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea, a political ally, came to his defense, calling the move „revenge.”
Streinu-Cercel was replaced by Adriana Pistol of Romania’s National Public Health Institute.