Flu’s ‘fourth wave’ sickens 650 in Romania

Written by CNN Staff Writer

Emergency officials in Romania say they are struggling to cope with the city’s fourth wave of the flu — but local doctors are warning against widespread medical misinformation that exaggerates the severity of the epidemic.

“We are working to limit possible diseases, stop any panic but also treating any of the cases that arrive in hospital,” Monica Gheorghe, director of emergency services in Bucharest, said in a statement.

More than 350 people have died in Romania since the virus first appeared in November, and authorities say that at least 6,000 cases have been reported across the country.

The latest wave of the virus was already apparent in Bucharest and other major cities over the weekend, when scores of bodies left the morgue.

According to the city’s Department of Health and the state ANTV station, 95 people died over the weekend.

Dr. Alexandra Baic said that warnings by activists that the epidemic could spark unrest were misinformed.

‘Doctors are not responsible’

“There are some (people) who are desperate and say what they can get away with, but people here don’t believe it because doctors are not responsible,” she told the news agency Adquarius.

However, another Romanian doctor also dismissed claims that the state — which has been receiving millions of euros in EU funding to combat the crisis — is mismanaging the epidemic.

“People need to understand the most important thing is not that the state is doing nothing, it’s that the government has said enough in other crises to make people afraid and no more to make them seek medical treatment and to make them go to hospitals,” Ciprian Pylyp (also known as Vladimir) is quoted by Reuters as saying.

“If you want to get out of the second wave (of the flu), the message is not difficult,” he said.

Valentina Vad also warned that false information could lead to health scares in Romania.

“I think they are saying that this is the end of Romania, that nothing can be done and we will die because we don’t have medicine here to treat our patients with flu,” she told ANTV.

“I don’t think that’s realistic. There’s so much information and there’s no evidence to say that it’s getting worse. There are enough pills, so nobody should be getting scared.”

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