Romanian hospitals fill up amid vaccine refusal

Romania is bracing for a fourth wave, and with the second-lowest vaccination rate in the European Union, its hospitals could be overwhelmed.

Romania eased restrictions despite the low uptake. Just 34% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.

That's blamed on entrenched distrust in state institutions, misinformation campaigns, poor infrastructure in the countryside, and weak education about the vaccine.

Raul Adin is 20 years old, unvaccinated, and breathing through a respirator. Asked if he plans to have the shot when he recovers, he says, "100%."

So does Roxana Pascu, who says she made it through three waves without a vaccine and thought she was safe.

Daily infection rates are nearing a record high of over 10,000 and health officials fear that will rise to 15,000-20,000 in October.

But Romania had only 32 intensive care beds available as of Wednesday (September 23), and was struggling to add more because of staff shortages.

Anita Timofte is a nurse in the capital Bucharest. Her institute's morgue is full and looking to rent mortuary freezers.

For the living, she says, there are too few staff to operate this mobile ICU ward.

"I don't think this mobile unit will cope with the coming wave. I suspect there won't be room for the number of people unlucky enough to get sick."

The country is now reintroducing some curbs, including weekend curfews in badly hit areas. Schools are increasingly moving online.

Along with finding more staff and beds, the country plans to introduce a lottery with vouchers and cash prizes to boost vaccinations.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting