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Minister Victor Costache: Man in Gorj with confirmed coronavirus is in good shape, no symptoms displayed

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea
Raed Arafat

Health Minister Victor Costache stated that the first case of infection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) confirmed in Romania is a man from a locality in Gorj County, who came in contact with the Italian citizen from Rimini who came to the area in the February 18-22 period, his condition being good, without presenting any symptoms.

"We are, unfortunately, able to announce that following testing conducted on the people in Gorj County, who came in contact with the Italian citizen from Rimini, we have the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection on Romanian soil. The man is from a locality in Gorj County. Immediately after arriving in Bucharest, he will enter the treatment scheme and we hope for a positive evolution. The man's health status is good, he does not manifest any symptoms and we must not be alarmed. We're speaking of a totally asymptomatic person. We have another 33 tests in the works in the area, and we will communicate the results as soon as possible, Victor Costache told an extraordinary press conference held at the Interior Ministry (MAI).

Furthermore, Secretary of State Raed Arafat, head of the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU), said that the man, who does not show coughing or fever, will be taken this evening by a crew with the Dolj County Emergency Situations Inspectorate, using an isolation chamber fitted vehicle, and will be brought to the Matei Bals Infectious Disease Hospital in Bucharest.

According to Arafat, the family of the man in Gorj confirmed to have the virus is formed of 7 people, who have now entered isolation. He emphasized that the locality where the man lives will not be indicated, because "it's the right thing to do".

Minister Costache also showed that authorities are conducting an epidemiological enquiry in order to identify all the people that the man confirmed to have COVID-19 has interacted with in the past days.

According to the Health Minister, the man confirmed with coronavirus was in direct contact with the Italian, and he is to be tested again in hospital in the coming days. Furthermore, the seven people that have lived in-house with the patient will be subjected to testing again.

The minister added that there is a positive side, that "patient zero" has been identified and the fact that those he came in contact with are in a rural environment and not an urban agglomeration, and efficient measures can thus be taken.

In this context, State Secretary Raed Arafat emphasized that it is not an epidemic, but "we are speaking of a single case."

"When the number of cases gets bigger, the approach is adapted to the situation. We do not want to give information that would lead to the patient. The direct message is that the virus is airborne, but you must be in close proximity for 15 minutes," Arafat mentioned.

Both the DSU State Secretary, as well as Minister Costache emphasized that all seven people, this man's relatives, were tested, the results coming back negative.

"All seven, according to information we have at this moment, have tested negative, yet given that the person who tested positive lived there and there was direct contact, all seven persons will remain at home, in isolation, under guard, and all necessities will be ensured, but they won't be able to leave the house. They will remain in quarantine in the house for at least 14 days, after which they will be tested to establish if any of them is positive. If one of them shows symptoms in the 14 days, then that person is tested, if they are positive, then they are transported to hospital (...) They are quarantined, which means they are to have no form of contact, only with protected persons. When the Health Directorate comes to see them, they enter with complete protection gear," Raed Arafat stated.

He added that the neighbors in the respective locality need to understand that these seven persons, being isolated at home, "cannot affect them or endanger them".

"Already an important number of persons from that locality were tested and showed negative results, the same with the seven family members - negative, so we don't expect a dramatic development, but we are ready for all scenarios (...) What must be understood is that at the world level there are tens of thousands of people already cured of this disease, there are others with no symptoms who have a light development of the disease. We hope that is our case too, in Gorj," the Health Minister, Victor Costache, concluded.

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