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Covid-19 has claimed one life every five minutes in Romania during October, official data indicates, as the country’s inoculation campaign lags and hospitals are inundated with coronavirus patients.

On Tuesday, the Eastern European nation reported its highest Covid daily infections, surpassing 18,800, as well as a record single-day high of 574 deaths from the virus.

Commenting on the dire situation facing the healthcare system, intensive care doctor Claudiu Ruscu warned that “there isn’t enough room to take all the cases that need us,” and blamed the country’s ailing vaccine uptake.

“If the vaccination rate had been at 70-80% we would now have ten times fewer deaths,” the doctor told Reuters.

Out of Romania’s recorded 42,000 Covid deaths to date in the pandemic, 13% occurred this month alone, with the overwhelming majority of Covid fatalities (more than 90%) among unvaccinated people. The official data suggests that, as of Tuesday, the number of deaths in October is equivalent to one person dying from the virus every five minutes.

Romania, which has a population of around 19 million, announced on Monday that it had inoculated over six million people with at least the first dose of a Covid vaccine. However, its vaccine uptake is the second lowest in the EU and significantly lower than the bloc’s average coverage of 74%.

Neighboring Hungary said last week that it would help Romania treat 50 Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care units at two hospitals, as the country’s overstretched healthcare felt the strain of the pandemic.

Earlier this month, thousands gathered in Bucharest to decry Covid vaccine passports, curfews for those who have not come forward to get jabbed, and other fresh Covid restrictions. Chants of “Freedom without certificates” rang out at key points in the capital outside government offices.

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