Romanian Health Minister Victor Costache resigned on Thursday (March 26) following criticism of the government over its handling of the biggest medical crisis Romania has faced in recent history, caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
"I have been informed of this resignation," PM Ludovic Orban said. "I regret the minister's resignation but I also understand it and I thank him for the collaboration," he added.
The resignation comes a day after Costache, a renowned cardiovascular surgeon by profession, told Digi24, a local TV channel that all of Bucharest's population would be tested for COVID-19. The plan was widely panned as not feasible since it would require 2 to 4 million tests while Romania’s current test processing capacity is around 1500 per day.
Costache’s resignation also comes as Romania's hospitals struggle to cope with an increasing number of coronavirus patients and a number of medical professionals have also contracted the virus.
A number of 1,029 people have been confirmed so far with the new coronavirus in Romania, with 17 deaths being recorded, accoeding to the Strategic Communication Group (GCS). The northeastern city of Suceava has become the centre of the country's coronavirus outbreak. There the county hospital was closed for disinfection as more than 80 doctors and nurses have been infected.
Romania's President Klaus Iohannis has declared a state of emergency in the country as of 16 March 2020, for a duration of 30 days.During this time, all schools and universities will be closed, exerting certain rights are constrained, but the measures are enforced gradually, depending on the situation.
On Monday (March 24) a nationwide night-time curfew came in effect while on Wednesday (March 25) the European Union country went into a full lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with the army to supplement police personnel to help enforce the measures.
"The movement of persons outside their home/household is only allowed: in professional interest, including the movement between the home/household and the place/places of conducting the professional activity and back (...), the movement for ensuring goods covering the basic needs of persons and pets/domestic animals, as well as necessary goods for conducting the professional activity (...), for medical assistance that cannot be postponed or done remotely, for justified reasons, such as child care/company, assistance of elderly, ill or disabled persons, death of a family member and short walks, in the vicinity of the home related to the individual physical activity of persons," Interior Minister Marcel Vela announced at the Interior Ministry (MAI) headquarters.
Costache is expected to be replaced by Nelu Tataru, a surgeon by profession.