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COVID-19: all of Bucharest’s population will be tested, door to door

Minister of Health Victor Costache on Wednesday evening told Adevarul Live that he wants the implementation of an "innovative" testing program similar to South Korea for the Bucharesters to be tested for the novel coronavirus through the door-to-door method.

The minister affirmed in relation to some people are quarantined, "There are different testing phase. A test can be carried out at getting out of quarantine. Testing is conducted depending on the capacity of the centers and priority is granted to those with symptoms, as is done in other countries."

"Our desire and the necessary amount that we have currently identified stands somewhere at a minimum of two million, a maximum of five million tests," Costache further said.

Patients diagnosed with the new virus are currently being sent for treatment to seven infectious disease centers: two in the capital and five in the rest of the country. To prevent the infection from reaching those with other diseases that have remained hospitalized, the health minister says that the patients will not be mixed.

“We do not treat Covid-19 in non-Covid hospitals, it is the basic pillar of our strategy for the fight against the virus,” Costache said “A hospital in each county will become Covid-19 hospital or two counties will be grouped to identify a larger dedicated hospital. For Bucharest, the Colentina hospital has been prepared, which will become operational tomorrow.”

At the same time, patients with mild forms will not be treated at home, as has happened in other countries. “Tomorrow we start a pilot project to take the pressure off the hospitals of infectious diseases. Tomorrow, 50 patients will be installed in hotels with individual rooms, supervised. The basic principle is not to mix the patients and not send them home, it is the biggest mistake that has been made in the European countries,” said the minister.

It's unclear, however, how the Romanian authorities will be able to implement these measures. For example, for testing all of Bucharest’s residents, between two and four million tests should be carried out. Romania has recently ordered 2 million Real-Time PCR tests for Covid-19 from South-Korea, 200,000 of which will reach the country by the end of this week. However, the testing capacity is much lower as only about 2,000 such tests can be processed in Romania each day, according to prime minister Ludovic Orban.

When it comes to separating Covid-19 and non-Covid patients, the authorities have had a bad start as there are already several hospitals in Romania where doctors and nurses have been infected with the virus or are under isolation after coming in contact with infected patients. The most dramatic example is that of the county hospital in Suceava, which was closed for disinfection on Wednesday after dozens of doctors and nurses have been infected with Covid-19.