The pandemic in Romania
So many things have happened in the past year that have affected all of us and our lives will never be quite the same again. Rewinding back to last year we ‘mildly accepted’ the lockdown, shrugging it off as a temporary measure- surely this isn’t going to last many people thought. However, it did and carried on for over another year.
Let us remember that the infection with sars COV-2 virus occurred in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, China, from where it spread to most Chinese provinces and most countries around the world, causing a pandemic.
In Romania, only cases of imports from Italy were initially confirmed in persons coming from that country or who had contact with a person from that country. A primary source of infection in Romania were foreigners who have not isolated themselves at home or who have lied that they have not been in an area affected by the covid-19 infection.
During that time thousands of Romanian emigrants working in other European countries have had their lives turned upside down. Many have returned to Romania (more than 1.5 million) and this has caused a severe strain on our resources and employment, especially in the provinces. Other emigrants who remained abroad have not seen their families and friends in Romania for over a year. Flights have been booked and cancelled, then rebooked and cancelled again. Refunds from the airlines were promised but never materialised.
Sadly we lost family and friends throughout the pandemic and to make matters worse most of us could not attend their funerals, instead, watching over the internet- it was something but of course not the same as being there. Heartbreaking stories emerged of elderly people alone in care homes, faces pressed against windows, yearning to see their sons, daughters, and grandchildren, many dying of covid before they got the chance to be reunited with their loved ones.
Hospitals were reporting the same problems as in other countries with a lot of patients and staff performing miracles. At this time, instead of being overwhelmed by covid patients, they are now besieged by a backlog of operations put on hold over the last year. My heart goes out to the families of those cancer patients who sadly lost their lives to the disease during the pandemic, who, through no fault of their own, were left anxiously waiting for appointments and surgery- thousands may have possibly died in the process.
Business owners in Romania have suffered badly too, especially the small businesses and shops with landlords still expecting rents to be paid, same as monthly contracts like electricity and water- regardless of the fact that there were no customers. Many sadly lost their livelihoods and sometimes family relationships suffered too.
Unemployment shot up to unprecedented levels, the financial assistance provided by the government went some way to keep families afloat- but only just. Food banks were left empty by rising demand.
Some persons tried to take on other work when they could find it, borrowing money from family and friends to survive. Work has been hard to find with many dropping their rate to a level they would normally never even consider. Things are about to change though and hopefully very soon people may once again be looking forward to a bright future and resumption of their beloved careers.
The activity of the Romanian Post was strongly affected. On the one hand, the working hours at the level of postal subunits have been reduced, measures have been implemented to protect all postal employees, especially those who come into direct contact with clients, both at the post sub-unit counters and on the ground, when distributing postal items. It should be pointed out that postal workers were on the front line along with other categories of employees – doctors, nurses, policemen, etc.
More postal workers helped each other. They organized and cooked food for the children of their colleagues, took care of the children. Their colleagues were in the hospital, some even in intensive care. They went to the hospitals and took packages of food, water and medicine to their colleagues who were in hospitals and their families who were isolated or in quarantine. They took care of the pets (dogs, cats, etc.) left safe at home or their colleagues were in isolation or quarantine and could not walk them or take them to the veterinarian in case of emergency. They worked hard, worked overtime and took the place of their colleagues who were confined in hospital, quarantine or isolation. They made donations in cash, in things, in furniture and building materials for houses and they helped poorer colleagues, who these times caught without a decent place to live. They also morally and materially supported colleagues who went through the tragedy of losing some or more family members due to coronavirus. During this period, the postal workers demonstrated, more than ever, solidarity, compassion, empathy and love of others.
It should be noted that both the Romanian Post and the Romanian Free Postal Union have granted substantial monetary aid to those who have been sick with coronavirus.
On the other hand, the Romanian Post has huge potential for development on the courier area. We tried and especially met the challenges that arose during this pandemic period, when everyone was in isolation at home, and we accelerated as much as possible the development of courier services. How did we do this? First of all, we reorganized the logistics we had at our disposal. We have tried to allocate additional resources precisely to increase the quality and volumes that we can process in the courier area. We also launched during the pandemic a product 'Stay at home' which focused on the following three levels: public institutions, large retailers and pharmacy levels. And from the observations that we had, we noticed a need of small local entrepreneurs who, during the pandemic period, no longer had the outlets that they usually had. We have tried to reach out to these entrepreneurs.
It should be noted that this solidarity has manifested itself in all fields of activity and in all communities, without any discrimination whatsoever.
One of our colleagues, Alexandra, was working on an illustration on the road in which several restrictions were imposed. She thought that it would be a good thing to capture memories of this troublesome and difficult period, memories of the pain and also of some humourous events, illustrating the lives of ordinary people during the pandemic. With the help and involvement of 26 people during the period March and April 2021, she managed to launch in May 2021 the book – Stories from Quarantine.
“During the period when I was very isolated in the house, I felt the need to connect with other people, who were imposed the same restrictions as me. Although we all went through the same pandemic, we had different life experiences and feelings. My goal was to launch a challenge for those who wanted to share a small and easy to decipher piece of their experiences during quarantine. Even if we have been physically isolated from other people, today's technology always keeps us connected, having the opportunity to share thoughts and experiences. So, from a distance, we created something together, which turned into a series of memories, from a more difficult period.”, as Alexandra wrote in her book.
In the end we want to emphasize that above all, faith and hope has united us more than ever and we continue to pray for a return to a normal life, stronger, better and more attentive to ourselves and those around us. Even though we have been physically isolated from other people, today's technique keeps us connected, having the opportunity to share different thoughts and experiences of life. We continue to trust, to hope, to pray for health and a better life, for all mankind.