Government says no travel restrictions to be introduced with neighboring Baltic countries for at least a week

  • 2020-09-06
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Estonia and Lithuania will not yet be put on the so-called ''yellow'' list of Covid-19 impacted countries.

The government gathered for an emergency meeting today to discuss the situation regarding the rise in Covid-19 prevalence in Lithuania and Estonia, and decided that no action will be taken in regards to the introduction of travel restrictions for at least a week.

At the beginning of the meeting, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele (For Development) informed that Estonia and Lithuania have made all efforts to maintain the possibility to travel freely between the Baltic states for at least another week.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (IPCC), the 14-day incidence level in Lithuania on Friday reached 16.1 cases per 100,000 population, while in Estonia the figure has risen to 16.38 cases.

According to the Minister, at the coordination meeting on Friday morning, the chief infectologist of the Ministry of Health Uga Dumpis confirmed that the situation in Lithuania is stabilizing, so next week will show whether the neighboring country has coped with its increase in infections.

As the politician said, if the number of infections in neighboring countries continues to increase, then its rate will be assessed, and if it does not exceed 10 percent per week, then a decision could be made not to impose stricter travel restrictions. Estonia and Lithuania plan to use the same approach towards Latvia.

Jurijs Perevoscikovs, director of the Infectious Diseases Risk Analysis and Prevention Department of the Latvian Center for Disease Prevention and Control, stated at the meeting that the situation in Lithuania is being closely monitored. He said that the incidence rate per 100,000 population has not reached 17 at any point yet, and according to the epidemiologist, this indicates that the disease is no longer spreading as rapidly.

In Estonia, according to Perevoscikovs, the incidence level continues to rise, but in today's data it is less than 16 cases. "But let's see what happens next week," the epidemiologist added. Estonia's new strategy allows people who do not want to adhere to self-isolation to take the Covid-19 test, which could increase the number of detected cases.

Perevoscikovs revealed that there is currently no data on the presence of Covid-19 in Valga-Valka. The epidemiologist noted that an agreement would be reached with Estonian colleagues to exchange relevant information. Also, according to the expert, it should be agreed at the local level that Covid-19 safety measures should be applied only in case of any infections appearing in Valga-Valka.

''In the case of Valka-Valga, it is basically impossible to halt various processes, because these two towns live as one,'' Vinkele added.

At a press conference after the government meeting, Perevoscikovs revealed that the incidence of Covid-19 in Europe has been steadily rising for 45 days. Meanwhile, Lithuania's incidence level did not deteriorate this week, but Estonia's rate had exceeded the 16-case limit for just one day, the expert said.