When I first started to hear about the Novel Coronavirus (nCov 2019) spreading in Wuhan, China I thought that Romania is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of getting any cases of the virus. It seems that I was (partially) wrong, as the first 2019-nCov virus scares came in Romania, one after the other.

(I am updating this article daily or as often as needed with new information about the Coronavirus in Romania – scroll down to see the updates)

The first news that I read – and I must admit that it wasn’t really pleasant to read it – was the fact that no less than 50 Romanian citizens had recently been in Wuhan. It seemed so crazy to read that so many Romanians traveled to Wuhan of all places in the world.

But apparently things are not as scary as they might sound at first: the tabloids and the media like to exaggerate things. After doing a bit of research, it seems that the poor people which were initially described as threats for bringing the novel coronavirus from China to Romania were in a different scenario.

We are talking here about a group of musicians from various cities (including Bucharest, Timisoara, Arad and Oradea) who had a tour in China. They spent 50 days total there, but they had their concert in Wuhan in early December 2019, before the virus appeared.

Even if the virus itself had appeared prior to that, the musicians would’ve had enough time to get symptoms. It is true that later on, in January, they passed Wuhan again – this time only switching planes in the airport before moving on.

And while some of the musicians are probably still a bit worried, it’s been almost a week since they returned home and nothing seems to have happened, so Romania seems to have escaped the nCov 2019.

Probably scares will follow more and more often – for example, just yesterday I read the news that there’s a first real suspect in Romania, a man who was taken away with an ambulance from the Bucharest Otopeni airport.

The man, coming from Israel, had flu-like symptoms according to the captain of the plane he was flying in – and who also asked for medical intervention. The man had traveled to China, too, which made him even more of a suspect.

But later on, the Romanian authorities found out that the man had been in China over three months ago… and eventually he tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

Additional updates (listing the latest first in order to make it easier to read the latest news):

UPDATE 4 (Feb 7): The most serious case of concern regarding a potential Coronavirus case in Romania: a teacher from Suceava has returned from China on Feb. 1st and started developing flu-like symptoms today (the 7th of January) when she went to the hospital.

She has been quarantined and results are pending – I will update when they’re in. Even though there seem to be reasons to be worried, there is a declared flu epidemic in Romania so it could be nothing but the regular flu… Let’s hope it is that way!

Also, the media went on fire as one of the doctors slipped and fell (pretty badly) while carrying the patient. You can see the video on Youtube here. (Health minister announced that the results are negative – no coronavirus in this case)

UPDATE 3 (Jan 29): A group of 25 musicians from Mioveni, Romania, returned from Beijing via plane. They show no symptoms but apparently were not put in quarantine because “they are healthy”.

This is VERY POOR management of a potentially dangerous situation and further proof that authorities prefer to quickly dismiss potential cases, probably in order to prevent panic. (nobody is sick by Feb. 6th)

UPDATE 2 (Jan. 28): A flight attendant (later on proved to be a passenger) that came from Vietnam via plane with flu-like symptoms was taken to the hospital to be tested.

Officials say that her symptoms are not similar to that of the novel coronavirus but at this point they seem eager to instantly deny any claims of the virus’ spread before having official results. (The patient eventually tested negative)

UPDATE 1: Another coronavirus scare – this time with a bit more substance came when a young man from Bacau went to the emergency room 8 days after coming back from China with symptoms that were similar to the new virus.

While the results are still not in, the authorities claim that it is “extremely unlikely” for him to be a carrier of the virus as he came from an area in China with very few reported cases. (The patient eventually tested negative)

Is Romania in danger of a potential nCov epidemic?

I still consider Romania to be one of the safest countries in case of an nCov Epidemic – although I am actually pretty sure that there will not be a global crysis to talk about. But I wanted to write this article and share the news because I am not sure how (or if) foreign media presents the situation here.

Because if you read some of the tabloids it might seem like all hell’s about to break loose here. Which is not the case.

Romania is not a very popular tourist destination and very few people (at least when compared to most other countries) who enter the country come from China or had been there recently.

Of course, as it was the unexpected case of the musicians that had a tour throughout the country, anything is possible, but despite that, Romania is one of the European countries that has the least chances of ever reporting a case of the new virus.

I am not saying that there is no danger at all – especially since I am not an expert – but I do think that nobody should be worried about traveling to the country in the next few days, weeks or ever.

Based on how the situation looks right now (where there are 3 cases in the entire European Union), you should be more scared of stray dogs, getting scammed by a taxi driver than the nCov 2019. Actually, the air quality itself is probably posing a greater risk today.

Even the regular flu might give you some real headaches – as the season has apparently started in Romania as well, but at the moment there are no things to be worried about.

Plus, with so many idyllic – yet very remote – villages in Transylvania and throughout the country, you have a lot of options to simply bunk up somewhere until the danger passes or the vaccine is ready.

While I always thing that it’s best to be prepared and also prepare for the worst, I don’t think that, under the current circumstances, Romania (or most of the world, to be honest) will get under threat from the novel coronavirus.

All authorities – and especially the Chinese ones – seem to have taken the necessary measures to prevent this new virus from spreading. I actually think that – as horrible as it is for the people living in the locked down Wuhan now – China is one of the few countries in the world that can stop an outbreak.

Imagine now even trying to lock down a city in the US or other Western countries: you’d have protests, human rights activists and millions of Instagram stories fighting against the “atrocities” – even though, as bad as it is if you are in the situation to be behind the closed doors – this is actually the thing to do in order to prevent an illness from spreading.

And yes, I stand by my words and I believe that no other country could’ve taken the measures that China has. Plus building a huge hospital in 6 days… that’s insane!

But this is a blog about Romania, and I will get back on track. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to be aware of the presence of this virus and I don’t consider it a fake threat, but in the current situation, if you’re planning a trip to Romania and have your itinerary all set up, there isn’t any real reason to be worried that you’ll end up with the novel coronavirus in your system.

I will make sure to update this article if (heaven forbid!) the situation changes.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Haha! It’s true. People should be more worried about the stray dogs and scammers more than the virus. It’s still worrying a bit though. I read yesterday that some tourists from China (not sure which area but apparently close to Wuhan) were let into Athens a couple of days ago without checks. The money means more to the government than a health scare because they are buying up huge chunks of over priced real estate.

    If anything, life lately has taught me that you can’t spend your life worrying about things to much. What will be will be. Good and bad.

    • I read something similar about a British journalist who came back from Wuhan and nobody cared either… most governments are not yet ready to deal with this: and it’s not only the governments, but the overworked people who have to do all the hard work. I can imagine that after a 8-hour shift sorting people in a crowded airport, you will definitely miss one or 20…

      But, indeed, panicking doesn’t help at all.

  2. Strongly disagree!
    Sorry, but everyone needs to be concerned!
    If you study history, please check this out.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu
    It’s only a matter of time for something of
    this magnitude to occur again. Think about the
    recent issues with EBola, Zika, and other contagious
    diseases. With the climate changing, expect
    more and more of these diseases to occur.
    The young and old could be the worst hit.
    Sorry to be “Donny Downer,” but this is NO joke.
    We all need to be prepared. I agree, panicking
    doesn’t help, but preplanning does.

    • I say it in the article that we should prepare as well as we can and I strongly agree with this. Even in Romania, in the larger cities, it appears that face masks are running out of stock, for example. We went on and bought a bit of extra food to have our pantry ready for a few days inside, if we’re forced to stay inside.

      If I were not a bit worried, I wouldn’t update this article daily with the latest news from Romania. It’s a country where a lot of risks appear to be active (despite my original thoughts) and I will do my best to update this article when needed with new information.

      What I don’t like is the fact that the authorities don’t seem to handle the situation with seriousness: probably in order to prevent panic, they are dismissing almost instantly any potential illness. The worst example is the group of musicians from Mioveni (wrote about them in my 3rd update): 25 people came back from Beijing (where there’s already one death reported) with just one person in the group wearing a face mask and they were not put in quarantine. That’s a really risky move.

  3. Thank you so much for this info. We are in our 80s and will be vacationing in Bucharest in mid-March. I am careful but not a type to panic so we are looking forward to a lovely trip.

    • I am sure you will have a lovely trip, Elizabeth! By then, things will definitely get better. I am updating this article daily (or whenever needed) so you can keep an eye on it for news on the matter.

  4. The US stock market (DOW Jones Index) dropped over 400 points partially on the increasingly dire news about the Corona virus. A few patients have been identified here in Japan. It is dominating the news cycle. But this too shall pass…

    • I read the opinions of experts in the field and apparently this could be just the beginning. I read that the Thailand stock market took a big hit as well when China announced that it blocked for now groups from traveling there.. and the longer this will hold, the worse its side effects will be.

      However, this is not something to take lightly and I think that the measures taken – even though they have a negative impact over the economy – are better than letting a new virus run loose before there’s a vaccine for it.

  5. Today, I was the only one boarding the bus. For three stops I was the only passenger. This was nothing to do with the new Coronavirus I’m sure, but enough of a ride under “panicked population” like conditions to be aware of the serious hardships such infectious outbreaks can cause. In an evermore integrated global economy, we can expect to all feel the repercussions of well-judged yet harsh preventative measures. The face masks are often of limited protection per se, especially after being worn for long enough for breath the moisten the interior, but they do also offer a useful public reminder that we do well to behave in a hygienic manner. Buses will be prime places for indirect hand contact, via rails and straps, so given that the mild January has made gloves scarce, washing hands after a bus ride is a simple but not necessarily obvious precaution. Consider that one’s indoor world can be controlled and clean. Many people never wear outdoor shoes about the house, some have the habit of returning from work to a shower and change of clothes to really leave the outside world, out there…it helps reduce stress too. We jumped out the dark ages with improvements in sanitation, it would be insane to stigmatise a population on the basis of an infectious illness. We need to be considerate and help each other behave responsibly in an informed manner. Your post and many Romanian friends help achieve that…Many thanks!

    • Nice comment with some very useful recommendations. One would think that most of the things you said are common sense things that we all should do, but the reality is different. Hopefully people will start following these basic hygiene recommendations and help reduce the spread of the virus.

      Regarding the stigmatisation of the population for this – I really can’t understand the people who do it. Reading comments from other human beings who say “they had it coming” or “they deserve it” is so saddening. But, even though vocal, I am sure that those are just a minority.

  6. I think it is a lot worse than the Chinese government is reporting. They are very proud and like to paint China in the best light possible, so it is in their interest to downplay it and make it look like everything is under control. Just like the Soviets did during the Chernobyl crisis. Same mentality.

    I found this video on youtube posted by a doctor who moved to China. He sheds some light on the situation and some of the problems in China. They need to make some serious changes so that this doesn’t happen again.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5XkhUKMDM

    Hopefully it blows over soon and everyone stays healthy!

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