BUCHAREST -- Thousands of people have protested in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, to reject new measures by the authorities to curb an alarming surge of COVID-19 infections.
The participants in the October 2 rally organized by the nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) blocked traffic, honked horns, and chanted slogans such as "Freedom!"
Most of them did not wear a mask.
Similar protests were held in other Romanian cities as health authorities registered 12,740 new cases on October 2, Romania's highest daily number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic.
The infection rate in the capital also reached its highest level so far -- 8.28 per 1,000 residents -- putting the country's hospitals under serious pressure with intensive-care units reaching near capacity.
Late on October 2, the ROVaccinare platform noted in a Facebook post that while crowds were demonstrating in Bucharest and elsewhere, "hundreds of doctors are fighting to save the lives of some patients with severe forms of COVID-19."
A Romanian has died every 8 minutes in the last 24 hours due to the disease, and 92 percent of them were not vaccinated, it said.
Romania has fully vaccinated only one-third of all adults, making it the second-least-vaccinated EU member state after Bulgaria.
The new rules and restrictions, which were adopted earlier this week by the National Committee for Emergency Situations, were published in the official gazette on October 2.
They will require people to wear masks in public and make shops close at 10 p.m. Restaurants will remain open at half-capacity but only for people with COVID-19 passes.
The protests came a day after seven people were killed in a fire at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in Romania's port city of Constanta -- the third deadly hospital blaze in the country in less than a year.