Each day we deal with airplanes that have had passengers with Covid-19 symptoms on board - epidemiologist

  • 2020-09-03
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Each day, epidemiologists have to deal with one or two airplanes that have had passengers with Covid-19 symptoms on board, Jurijs Perevoscikovs, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Prevention at the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), said today in an interview to Latvian Radio.

In such cases, contacts of these passengers are traced in collaboration with foreign colleagues, the epidemiologist said. 

Perevoscikovs said that when there is an urgent need, people will always find a way to get from one country to other. Tough travel restrictions will only make such trips longer and with more stops. 

 When it comes to international travel, infection risks depend not only on the infection rate in the given country but also the number of travelers arriving from this country. In August, for instance, the highest number of imported Covid-19 cases came from the UK. In Perevoscikovs' words, ten out of the 56 Covid-19 cases imported to Latvia from abroad were brought by arrivals from the UK. 

Commenting on the government's decision to ease restrictions on air travel, Perevoscikovs said that initially, there was an agreement among the Baltic states to not resume air travel with countries where the Covid-19 incidence exceeds 25 cases per 100,000 residents. 

As a result of this agreement, Latvia's airBaltic sustained heavy losses, while the two neighbor countries largely ignored the rule, and people often flew to the neighbor countries' airports to get to Latvia, Perevoscikovs said.

As reported, the Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday agreed to permit air travel to countries where the the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,00 population is twice as high as the European Union's average number, stipulating at the same time that those returning from these countries must self-isolate for 14 days.

At present, citizens and residents of the EU and countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) are allowed to enter Latvia without restrictions if the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,00 population in their country does not exceed 16.