The number of COVID cases has been declining in the last seven days, but lifting the restrictions must be correlated with the number of hospitalized patients and with the number of patients admitted to intensive care, says the Minister of Health, Alexandru Rafila. He added that the first measure of relaxation would be to give up the mandatory wearing of the facemask outdoors.
The minister argued that there are several EU countries that have lifted most of the restrictions and that Romania is preparing for such a thing, but with caution.
“We are preparing to lift the restrictions, but with caution. We cannot enforce any relaxation measures at this moment, unless this indicator of the occupancy rate of the intensive care units starts to decrease steadily“, the minister told a press conference.
He estimated that the number of patients in ICU would enter a downward trend in the next 7-10 days.
“Looking at the way the number of infections is dropping, we’ll consider waving the state of alert in the upcoming period. But until the state of alert is lifted, of course we can give up certain restrictions, such as, for instance, wearing the face mask outdoors or increasing the occupancy rate of some institutions that organized events, but only in correlation with the real trend of the pandemic,” the minister underlined.
“I think this would be the first measure, but not indoors, because spring is coming, people are leaving their homes. I don’t want to risk it, to make predictions, but I think that this could be a measure taken after we see that things are back to normal in terms of illnesses and the decrease is consistent”, he added.
Rafila revealed that the Omicron variant is dominant in over 90% of the sequencing cases in our country at the moment. There was also a project conducted summing over 350 patients in intensive care sampled countrywide. “The preliminary result, as we are trying to get some more detailed results, about the genetic profile of the strains isolated by location, shows that 87.5% were Omicron strains and 12.5% Delta strains. Personally, I was expected a higher share of Delta strains, but only one in eight patients admitted in intensive care are infected with the Delta variant. The reproduction rate has rapidly dropped, it was 0.89 on Sunday”, the Health minister said.
He added the expectations is to have around 25,000 Covid infections on Tuesday, February 15 and to see this number decreasing this week to, probably 20,000 daily infections.
“The trend is obviously downward in terms of patients hospitalized in wards. It is constant in the intensive care units, but it poses no more problems. Characteristics of the patients in ICU: The average age is 65 years. 88% of them have comorbidities. Only 18.5% of patients are vaccinated“, Rafila stated, arguing that EU countries that lifted restrictions have vaccination rates around 70-80%.
“Our request to everybody is to have patience, to observe the rules and to get vaccinated”, the minister stressed.