BUCHAREST, Romania: In the wake of the swiftly-spreading Covid Omicron variant battering Western Europe, officials in Eastern Europe, where the populations have low inoculation rates, are forecasting a major spurt in the case count following the holidays.
Currently, as the Omicron strain spreads throughout Europe, coupled with the winter holiday period drawing large crowds to gather, public health officials are forecasting a steep spike in COVID-19 cases in January.
Adriana Pistol, the director of the Romanian System of Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases, cautioned on December 29 that 25,000 new patients are expected in the next wave of infections.
Romania is the EU member country with the second-lowest inoculation rate.
"Even if the Omicron strain does not have the same level of severity, the health system will be overloaded anyway and reach levels recorded this year in October," as quoted by the Associated Press.
Pistol noted that approximately 60 percent of Romanians above 65 years, or suffering from long-standing ailments, have not been inoculated.
Only 40 percent of the Romanian populace of some 19 million have been administered the full vaccination dosage against the coronavirus disease. Despite booster dosages being deemed crucial to sufficiently safeguard against the newest virus strain, officials pointed out that the booster shot had yet to be administered to three-quarters of the nation's fully inoculated population.
The Romanian public health system, reeling from insufficient funding, was almost on the verge of collapsing some months back amid the nation's recent spike in COVID-19 cases.