It’s one of the odder coronavirus stories.
This week, Romania sent dozens of health workers to neighboring Moldova to offer assistance during the coronavirus.
Relations between Romania and Moldova have generally been close after communism ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, due to historic and cultural ties. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940.
Although political relations cooled after Moldovan President Igor Dodon moved to improve ties with Moscow, the medics’ mission to Moldova was a humanitarian one.
Moldova has reported about 4,000 cases of coronavirus, and 122 deaths
Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban sent the personnel to Moldova with half a million FFP2 and FFP3 extra-protection masks to hospitals, and 50,000 hazmat suits for Moldovan healthcare workers.
Romania’s Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca and Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu went to airport to see the humanitarian flight depart.
Some of the medics and nurses were dispatched to the city of Balti in northern Moldova on Thursday, where they were greeted by Mayor Renato Usatii.
Usatii welcomed the medics, thanked them for coming and handed each of them an envelope. He also said he would gift them a prize turkey when they left.
According to a video, Usatii thanks the medics and says he is giving them 1,000 dollars “as a thank you gift” the same gift that Moldovan medics had received from the town hall.
“I thank you for coming. The whole world is facing this pandemic and the support from Romania is very important for the Republic of Moldova,” he said.
Romania’s embassy in Chisinau learned about the gifts and on Friday said the money had been handed back to Balti city hall.
The medics returned to the Balti town hall and returned the money to Usatii’s deputy, according to tv8.md.
Deputy Mayor Tatiana Dubitkaia explained the gift was “a sign of gratitude.”
One of the doctors said that the doctors had volunteered their services “leaving families and children at home to help their colleagues from Moldova to save lives.” He said he considered the money “a moral gesture.”
It is customary in Romania and Moldova to offer healthcare workers gifts to thank them. The healthcare systems are also plagued with covert bribes.
Usatii said the money would be transferred to the Balti town hall bank account which is raising money to fight COVID-19, deschide.md reported.
“I offered the medics 1,000 dollars as a gesture of gratitude for their noble gesture, the same way as I am thanking doctors at the Balti Clinic,” he said.
There was no word about the fate of the turkeys. Presumably, they are still living on a farm somewhere in northern Moldova.