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AFP
March 27, 2020

Romania’s health minister resigns as country struggles to stem virus

World

AFP
March 27, 2020

BUCHAREST: Romania's Health Minister Victor Costache resigned on Thursday following criticism of the government over its handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Costache did not give a reason for his resignation while Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said it was for "personal and professional reasons." Orban added: "I regret his resignation, I understand it and I want to thank him for the good collaboration."

The government has come under fire as Romania´s hospitals struggle to cope with an increasing number of coronavirus patients. On Wednesday Costache told a TV news channel that all of Bucharest´s population would be tested for COVID-19, a plan widely panned as not feasible and misguided when medical staff do not have access to widespread testing.

Many Romanian doctors and nurses have also taken to social media to criticise the lack of protective medical equipment such as masks and gloves. A number of medical professionals have also contracted the virus.

Romania has confirmed 1,029 cases of the new coronavirus so far, with almost 16,000 tests carried out. Seventeen people have been killed by the virus, eight of them at a hospital in the northeastern city of Suceava, a facility that has become the centre of the country's coronavirus outbreak.

Romania declared a state of emergency last week and on Wednesday went into a full lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with the army deployed to help enforce it. Costache is expected to be replaced by Nelu Tataru, a state secretary in the health ministry who has been one of the main faces of the government´s response to the crisis.