Romania imposes curfew and closes schools to slow coronavirus

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania will impose a nationwide nighttime curfew and close all schools for 30 days from Monday after seeing the number of daily coronavirus infections double in two weeks, the government said on Friday.

Romania has some of the European Union’s least developed healthcare infrastructure, and is witnessing one of the highest fatality rates in the bloc’s eastern wing.

A record 9,714 infections were confirmed in the space of 24 hours, and about 1,000 patients are in intensive care, twice as many as a month ago.

More than 7,500 people have died since the beginning of the outbreak in late February, in a country of 20 million people.

“We have to be very realistic. Tougher and tougher measures are needed to control the spread of the pandemic,” President Klaus Iohannis told cabinet ministers late on Thursday.

But he reiterated the need to keep industry running.

From Monday, all shops will close by 9 p.m. and people will have to stay home between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., according to an order from the National Emergency Situations Committee.

It also widened the compulsory use of face masks to all outdoor spaces across Romania, which is gearing up for a parliamentary election on Dec. 6, and ordered all indoor farm produce markets to close.

Romania had previously imposed a strict lockdown in March. Face masks have been mandatory on public transport and in indoor public spaces and crowded outdoor areas since May.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Kevin Liffey