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Nina Renshaw is secretary seneral of the European Public Health Alliance.
“I’d never heard of resistant bacteria before. Colectiv has brought them to the surface,” said Eugen Iancu, father of 22-year-old Alexandru who died following a fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania just over a year ago. Sixty-four people died. The majority of the young victims including Alexandru would likely have survived their injuries but died days or even weeks after the fire as a result of infections, many of them resistant to one or more types of antibiotics.
As hospitals in Romania were overwhelmed, especially as the victims’ conditions deteriorated with drug-resistant infections, the patients were sent to specialist burns units around Europe. Thirty-nine victims were transferred for treatment abroad, including eight to Brussels, others to the Netherlands, France, Germany, the UK, and Austria, amongst others. All eight who arrived in Brussels were carrying multi-drug resistant bacteria. The situation was described as a “bacteriological bomb” by a surgeon.
A painful lesson not yet learned from the Colectiv tragedy is that closer European cooperation is inevitably and urgently needed to avoid catastrophes of an even greater scale in the near future.