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Romania, Bulgaria hit COVID pandemic death highs amid vaccination lag

A woman holds a banner during an anti-government and anti-restrictions protest organized by the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians or AUR, in Bucharest, Romania, on October 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A woman holds a banner during an anti-government and anti-restrictions protest organized by the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians or AUR, in Bucharest, Romania, on October 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romania reports a record daily number of 591 COVID-19 deaths amid a persistently low vaccination rate and a wave of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed the country’s ailing health care system.

Only 37 percent of adults in Romania, a European Union member with around 19 million people, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to an EU average of 75%. Within the 27-nation EU, only Bulgaria has a smaller share of its population vaccinated.

Romanian authorities say that 541 of the 591 people who had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours were unvaccinated. More than 1,800 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care as of this evening.

The unfolding disaster has prompted authorities to impose tighter restrictions starting last week. Vaccination certificates are required for many day-to-day activities, such as going to the gym, the cinema or a shopping mall.

Bulgaria, where 25% of adults have been fully vaccinated, also reports its highest daily pandemic death toll today. Of the 310 who died over the past 24 hours, more than 90% were unvaccinated, say authorities. Bulgarian Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov calls the situation “a national disaster.”

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