Bodies pile up outside hospital morgue as Romania struggles with fourth wave of Covid

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“I never thought I’d live something like this when I started this job,” Ionita said. “I never thought that such a devastation could happen, that we would send entire families to their graves.”

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Several floors up, all the beds but one of the hospital’s now expanding intensive care units were full. A nurse was changing the sheets on an empty bed – empty, because the man who had occupied it is now lying in the morgue.

Romania has one of Europe Minimum vaccination rate,
just down 36% of the population Vaccination has been done, even though the country’s vaccination campaign got off to a good start last December.

Medical workers and officials attribute this low vaccination rate to several factors, including skepticism of officials, deep religious beliefs, and a flood of misinformation via social media.


When 32-year-old Dr. Alexandra Munteanu arrived for duty at one of Bucharest’s vaccination centers after an overnight shift at the hospital, she found that turnout was low. He is surprised that the severity of the disease has not subsided yet. “There are a lot of doctors, including me, who work with Covid patients, and we are trying to tell people that this disease really exists,” she said.

One of the country’s most outspoken and high-profile anti-vaxxers is Diana Sosoka, a member of the Romanian Senate. In one of his many public stunts, he tried to block people from entering a vaccine center in his constituency in the country’s northeast.

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“If you love your kids, stop vaccinating,” she says in a video clip on her Facebook page. “Don’t kill them!”

The most important way to prevent another Covid surge

Vaccines introduced in Romania have been extensively tested for use in children and have been shown to be safe and effective, but that hasn’t stopped them and others from spreading wild rumors on social media and local television.

Officials and medical personnel are outraged that public figures have done so much to undermine their efforts.

“Look at the reality,” said Colonel Dr. Valerieu Gheorghita, the army doctor who led the national vaccination campaign. “We have our intensive care units full of patients. We have a lot of new cases. Unfortunately, we have hundreds of deaths every day. So this is the reality. And over 90% of the patients who died were not vaccinated ”

A banner in Bucharest shows medics working on COVID-19 patients with this message: "He is suffocating.  They are begging us.  They are repenting."

In Bucharest, a large banner stands, covering half of a building on a major boulevard. “They’re suffocating. They’re begging us. They’re regretting,” are the words printed largely in black over black-and-white photographs of doctors battling Covid patients in an intensive care unit.

Below, some passersby take a look at the poster, and pay no less attention to share their thoughts with Granthshala. However, soon this banner will be installed in other major cities of the country.

“There’s manipulation,” said one woman, who gave her name only as Claudia, adding: “Some people don’t believe in vaccines.”

Meyer: ‘It’s not a safe vaccine’

Nowhere is that suspicion more evident than in the countryside, where covid-19 vaccination rate almost half of them fell urban area,
Suseva County, northeast of Bucharest is an hour flight Minimum overall vaccination rate in country.

Here, 40-year-old Dr. Alexandru Calencia, the manager of the main hospital, talks about the uniqueness of the region where he was born and raised.

Austria announces Europe's first nationwide vaccine mandate and reimposes lockdown as COVID-19

“This county is very religious. It is an area that has a strong religious tradition, and a lot of religious people. […] Very little [priests] There are pro-vaccines, and I certainly know some people who are anti-vax. Most of them do not like to say anything in favor or against. We have evidence of patients coming from the hospital, from the same religious communities where their priest or their pastor has advised them not to get vaccinated, just like that.”

In the village of Bosansi, just outside Suseva, such a pastor also serves as the mayor of the village. Neculai Miron has been one of the most outspoken anti-vax public figures in the country, and today is no different.

“We are not against vaccination, but we want to verify it to meet our concerns, because it has caused many side effects,” he told Granthshala. “We don’t think the components of the vaccine are very safe. It’s not a safe vaccine.”

Nekulai Miron, the mayor of the village of Bosansi in Suseva County, is vocal about his views against the vaccine - he thinks it is not safe.

The medical data doesn’t affect him, and neither does the local GP, whom he took the Granthshala team to see.

Dr. Daniela Afdaroi uses Johnson & Johnson Vaccine to vaccinate about 10 people every other day. Latest official records show that Just under 11% of the village had been vaccinated By the beginning of November 2021.

While she was talking about the situation in the village, Mayor Miron hovered around the doctor’s desk, looking at the papers on her desk to see who had been vaccinated.

“When are you going to get vaccinated, Mr. Mayer?” Afdaroi asked with a laugh.

“I don’t need to get vaccinated,” she replied. “I am perfectly fine.” The doctor explains that the vaccine helps to keep you in such a way that it falls on the deaf ears.

Pastor: ‘I believe what I see, not what I hear’

In rural villages like these, poverty and lack of education, combined with the personal influence of local leaders and traditional religious beliefs, can form a deadly combination.

But the local Pentecostal pastor, Dragos Crotoru, insisted he was unaware of any deaths from Covid-19 in the parish. “Here in the church, we don’t have any cases of people who are sick with coronavirus. We have a zero percent mortality rate, I don’t know anyone who has died of coronavirus in our parish. And I believe that What I see, rather than what I hear,” he said.

Despite hearing from Granthshala about bodies of Covid-19 victims filling the morgue at Bucharest University Hospital, Croitou was unconvinced. “As far as I know, Bucharest is bigger than Bossanci,” he laughed. “We have no dead. Maybe we have some people who are sick in the village, yes, as far as I know, yes. But the death rate in our church has been zero.”

The death rate is certainly much higher in this mostly rural county. As of early November, Suseva was ranked third in the country’s overall COVID-19 mortality rate, according to data from the public health unit, which tracks deaths.

The largest cemetery in Suceava in northeastern Romania houses freshly laid graves, which has the third highest COVID-19 death rate in the country.

A corner of the main cemetery in Suceva, the county seat about 10 minutes from Bosansi, is full of freshly dug graves. In the chapel of the cemetery, a service is going on. On the hill behind the chapel, mourners gather for the funeral. Another grave is being prepared nearby.

The wooden crosses on each new grave do not indicate the cause of death, so it is not clear how many people died from the virus. However, a man working on one of the graves said the number of late burials was much higher than usual.

“Eternal Regrets,” reads a ribbon draped in one of the graves.

Back in the morgue of the Bucharest University Hospital, a medic hammers a nail into a wooden coffin. A colleague sprayed disinfectant on the coffin.

For those who die of covid, there will be no open funeral.

“Vaccine means the difference between life and death,” said nurse Ionita. “People should understand this. Perhaps in their last moments they should understand this.”

It is already too late for the people wrapped in black body bags in front of them.


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