BUCHAREST: Hundreds of Romanian coronavirus patients have discharged themselves from hospital following a court ruling against mandatory hospitalisation as parliament on Thursday moved to pass a fresh law to enforce isolation amid a surge in infections.
Lawmakers voted in favour of new legislation that spells out when people can be quarantined or placed in self-isolation.
The law allows those quarantined to challenge the decision in court.
“We are adopting this law, which will restrict some rights and freedoms, but we do it in order to protect lives,” said Ioan Cupsa, a lawmaker from the ruling liberal party.
The parliament’s move follows a Constitutional Court ruling, which came into force last week.
The court decided that hospitalising and quarantining people without or with just mild Covid-19 symptoms violated fundamental rights and so could not be imposed by a government decree alone.
As a result of the ruling, 624 patients, who tested positive for the new coronavirus, had asked to leave hospital and now risk transmitting the disease in their communities, according to Health Minister Nelu Tataru.
In addition, more than half of 50,000 people, undergoing mandatory self-isolation after returning from abroad, have left their homes in defiance of doctors’ recommendations, Tataru said.
His announcements come as Romania, one of the EU’s poorest members, reported 614 new infections on Thursday, the biggest daily increase since the pandemic started.
The total number of infections in the country of some 20 million people reached 30,789, while 1,834 people have died.
Romania had so far escaped the brunt of the health crisis while enforcing a two-month lockdown until mid-May and strict mandatory quarantine measures.
Senate is expected to approve the new legislation on Friday, after which President Klaus Iohannis will promulgate it.
The social democratic opposition had tabled several amendments, which would make patients’ consent compulsory before they are hospitalised or ordered to self-quarantine, but in the end dropped their objections and supported the law.
The opposition has criticised the government’s management of the health crisis and called for a faster easing of the virus-related restrictions.
But officials have warned that another nationwide lockdown was on the table if the numbers of infections continued to surge.
“It’s only normal for us to want our normal life back. Unfortunately this is not yet possible,” Iohannis said on Thursday in a media statement. – AFP