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The region with twice as many coronavirus cases as anywhere else in Romania

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By Matthew Holroyd
The region with twice as many coronavirus cases as anywhere else in Romania
Copyright  Facebook/IonLunguPrimar

The municipality of Suceava, on Romania’s northern border, is approximately 8,500 square kilometres in size, the second largest county after Timiș.

According to Romania’s latest census, the population of the area is less than seven other counties, and is nearly a third of the population of Bucharest county, home to the capital city.

But the rate of infection in Suceava is dramatic compared to the rest of Romania.

As of 10 April, Suceava County had registered 1,529 cases of COVID-19, roughly 30 per cent of the entire number of cases across the country.

By contrast, Bucharest county, the next highest, had 688 cases.

Officials also say that more than half of the country's infected doctors, nurses and other medical staff are also in Suceava.

The area has been listed as among the major hot spots of infection in the country and some national media have labelled the region "the Lombardy of Romania”.

The city of Suceava, which has over 100,000 residents, and eight surrounding communes were placed under lockdown 31 March, after a military ordinance was issued by the Interior Ministry.

“For the moment we stay in the house, only one family member goes out for shopping [and] we wear a mask and gloves,” says Radu Baran, a videographer living in Suceava.

“We can only leave the house if we have a statement and documents to prove where we are going - if we don’t have them, we get a fine”.

All flights, train connections and public transport routes to Suceava have been suspended and movement within the city is also closely regulated.

Only the transport of goods and people undertaking economic, defence and public administration activities is currently allowed, and police and armed forces patrol the quarantined zones.

Health Minister Nelu Tataru has said the vast spread in Suceava was caused by poor management and people not respecting self-isolation rules, but has insisted the authorities have control.

Tataru has personally visited Suceava to survey the situation and claims that he found the Suceava Public Health Department without staff.

Baran also told Euronews that some patients may have lied to health authorities about travelling to coronavirus "red zones".

The authorities have since brought in military doctors and additional support from university clinics in Iasi, to help restart operations and treat the spread of coronavirus.

The mayor of Suceava county, Ion lungu, has reported on Facebook that staff at the County Hospital in Suceava are now carrying out “more than 250 tests a day” with new equipment.

“The main concern of the municipality is about managing the problem of the new coronavirus.

"Every day we strive to limit the spread of the virus.”

But one military doctor who was delpoyed in Suceava, has posted on Facebook saying the conditions are similar to a “war” and that he is often surrounded by “almost 30 patients”.

“[Sometimes] I needed a lot of processing power to convince myself that I am not surrounded by undead or zombies”.

“If we do not humble ourselves, we will lose this war”.