During a TV interview, aired on December 3rd, 2020, on Digi24, the former Prime Minister of Romania, Ludovic Orban, stated that during the month of November, there have been more COVID-19 tests done than in previous months. This statement is true, according to official statistics.
Ludovic Orban, leader of the National Liberal Party, was designated Prime Minister of Romania by President Klaus Iohannis in October 2019, after the fall of Viorica Dăncilă’s Government. Three months later, the Liberal government was dismissed via a censor-motion. Given the pandemic circumstances, a new cabinet, once again led by Orban, was approved in March. His cabinet was in charge of handling the health crisis in Romania. Ludovic Orban resigned in December, due to his party receiving a lower-than-expected number of votes at the parliamentary election.
Not long before resigning from his position of Prime-Minister of Romania, Ludovic Orban claimed that, during the month of November, there have been more COVID tests done, compared to previous months. He proceeded to say that the number of infections has been decreasing, even though, at the beginning of the month, Romania reached a record of over 10.000 daily cases. Orban`s claim comes after general criticism regarding the low testing rate on one hand, and president Iohannis` statement that mass-testing has no proven effects, on the other hand. Moreover, Ludovic Orban stated, on Novermber 17th, that Romania has a capacity of 53.000-54.000 daily tests, but this threshold is not achieved, because there are not so many requests.
“I can give you some data from memory: in June, there were about 240.000-250.000 tests, in September there were more than 400.000 tests, and the highest number of tests was done in November”, Orban told the public during the TV interview. These claims can be checked by consulting the official daily statistics and reports, published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the Group for Strategic Communication, and other reliable sources.
Official data and statistics
First of all, it is important to understand how the Romanians get tested. There are two main testing procedures: on-demand tests, which can be done by anyone and cost about 40 euro, and health protocol tests, which can be done for free if someone comes in contact with a person that tested positive, but only if they have symptoms.
Ludovic Orban claimed that, during the month of June, the test count was somewhere between 240.000 and 250.000. This can be checked by using the daily reports published on social media by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to their posts, between the beginning of the pandemic and the 1st of June 2020, there have already been 443.252 tests done. If we check the statistics for the last day of the same month, the 30th of June, the official reports show that the test count was at 710.112. By doing the math, we can learn that, in June, 266.860 COVID-19 tests have been done. There is a difference of at least 16.860 tests between Orban’s claim and official reports.
Using the same method, the data for September and November also confirms the claims. The former Prime Minister said that there have been more than 400.000 tests done in September. Official statistics show that there have actually been 594.419 tests (from 1.825.272 on September 1st, to 2.419.691 on September 30th), proving Orban’s claim about the tests done in September to be true.
Even though Ludovic Orban was mostly right about the number of tests made during the months of June and September, the question still remains: has the highest number of monthly tests been done in November? The data shows that, in November, 843.263 tests have been processed (from 3.264.304 on November 1st, to 4.107.567 on November 30th). For comparison, during the month of October, 797.260 COVID-19 tests have been done. Therefore, the highest number of tests in Romania was done in November.
The following chart, published on covid19.geo-spatial.org, depicts the evolution of daily tests in Romania, since the beginning of the pandemic. As the data shows, most of the tests were done in November, with a total of 864.819 tests.
The difference, compared to MIA data, may be caused by the fact that Coronavirus COVID-19 Romania takes into consideration several sources: The Ministry of Internal Affairs, county public health directorates, county hospitals, public statements by the various representatives of the relevant national, regional and local authorities.
Ludovic Orban’s claims about the number of monthly tests are true. The former Prime Minister’s statements match the reports and statistics released by The Ministry of Internal Affairs and official global data, proving that November was, indeed, the moth with the most COVID-19 tests done in Romania.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Rareș Morogan, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania
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