Romania’s Health Minister Victor Costache resigned on March 26, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced in a press statement without providing many details. Costache has been replaced by his deputy Nelu Tataru.
Costache’s resignation comes in the middle of the biggest medical crisis Romania has faced in recent history, caused by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Reportedly, Orban asked Costache to resign after the latter unexpectedly announced mass testing for COVID-19 in Bucharest even though the country does not have enough tests or testing capacity to protect doctors and nurses who are getting infected in significant numbers.
The mass testing topic was hijacked by politicians, with Bucharest’s Social Democrat mayor Gabriela Firea — in opposition to the Liberal government — announcing massive testing as well.
More likely (or fairly), Costache’s resignation should be linked to the scandals related to two hospitals in northeast Romania where poor management resulted in massive infections of medical personnel that put lives at risk and reduced the capacity of the health system by infecting over 100 doctors and nurses and placing many others in self-quarantine.
The two large and relatively well endowed (in terms of equipment but not protective materials) hospitals at Suceava and Focani were closed for disinfection with most of their personnel infected and sent home. At the origin there were patients not tested and hiding their past visits to Italy, but also lack of protective materials and procedures plus bad management decisions. Prosecutors have already initiated investigations and the manager of Suceava hospital was dismissed.
Patients sent from the hospitals to other medical facilities in the country already resulted in 28 doctors and nurses at the Bucharest Plastic Surgery hospital in Bucharest being sent into self-quarantine after coming into contact with an infected patient who had arrived from Suceava.
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