Health Ministry not to revise Covid-19 rate criteria for Estonia and Lithuania

  • 2020-09-10
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The Health Ministry has no plans at the moment to revise the Covid-19 rate criteria for people arriving in Latvia from Estonia and Lithuania, the health minister's spokesman Edgars Skvariks told LETA. 

As at Thursday, September 10, Estonia's 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,00 population stood at 25.9, which means that this Friday Estonia will most probably be added to the list of countries arrivals from which are required to self-isolate for two weeks. Meanwhile, Lithuania has called on Latvia and Estonia to raise the threshold within the so-called Baltic bubble that triggers the requirement for arrivals to self-isolate to 25 coronavirus cases per population of 100,000, from the existing 16.

Skvariks indicated that on June 10, the European Union set the 14-day cumulative number of 16 Covid-19 cases per 100,00 population as a threshold for arrivals from third countries to curb the spread of the virus in the EU. At that time, it was the average Covid-19 rate across the bloc. 

In his words, the threshold has been set with the aim to identify those countries where Covid-19 incidence is so high that people arriving from these countries pose additional infection risks. The lower the Covid-19 rate in a country and the closer it is related to imported cases, the more careful the country should be identifying the countries with high Covid-19 risks. 

In Latvia, the 14-day cumulative number of Covid-19 cases per 100,00 population is in the range between 4 and 5, which means that in countries where the number exceeds 16 the risk of contracting Covid-19 is four times higher. "Bearing this in mind, we believe that the existing approach to identifying high-risk countries is adequate," the ministry's spokesman said. 

He also noted that an extraordinary Cabinet meeting might be called on Friday to decide on the matter.

As reported, local residents of border towns Valka and Valga will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate after crossing the Latvian-Estonian border provided that they move within the administrative borders of the two municipalities, the Latvian government decided Tuesday.

The exemption will be included in the government regulations on Epidemiological Safety Measures for the Containment of the Spread of Covid-19 Infection in case Estonia is added to the list of countries arrivals from which are required to self-isolate.

The current rules in Latvia stipulate that persons returning from a country with a 14-day coronavirus incidence rate of over 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants must self-isolate for two weeks. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) releases an updated list of such countries each Friday.