As the Covid-19 pandemic lost power this winter, a wave of respiratory infections took its place, causing patients to flock to hospitals, leading to drug shortages, and worrying doctors.
“We’re talking about a return to normality. It's a season with respiratory infections like we had before the pandemic. What we have in addition, in these moments, are three elements. We also have SARS-CoV 2 infections and there are quite a few cases, even if they are mild forms,” infectious disease specialist Adrian Marinescu told Antena 3. “The circulation of viruses in general, those with respiratory transmission, has been reduced in the three years [of the pandemic] and now we see clearly that we are getting infected to a greater extent. The immune system is also probably not as balanced because many of us have been infected with SARS-CoV 2,” he added.
Romanian hospitals are filling up, and pharmacies are lacking common drugs used to treat respiratory viruses. The seasonal cold and the flu can be most severe on the elderly and on children. In this context, prevention becomes key, and doctors advise that people be careful to not come in contact with someone who is ill. The seasonal flu shot and the Covid-19 vaccine can also help prevent more severe cases.
"I think we all know the preventive measures, starting with the rules of hygiene, avoiding crowded areas, [wearing] masks in closed spaces and means of transportation for those vulnerable. My advice is that the moment someone has acute symptoms, the first thing they should do is isolate themselves. They shouldn’t go out into the community, they shouldn’t go to work,” Marinescu said.
The wave of infections is likely to get worse as the holidays pass and children go back to school. Roughly 250 people go to the infectious diseases hospital Matei Balș in Bucharest every day now, and around 10-15% need to be hospitalized. Difficult breathing, a sudden turn for the worse, especially for those over 65, those with chronic diseases, and young children, may serve as grounds for going to the hospital.