Approximately 40 soldiers from the army's staff battalion have fallen ill. Twenty six were taken to the state's infectious disease center for diagnostic testing, although food poisoning is believed to be the cause.
On Jan. 21, Hundreds of people gathered in Dome Square to commemorate the anniversary of the 1991 barricades that were built to prevent Soviet forces from entering the city during the independence movement. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga said: "Those were not barricades that could withhold an alien power 's those were barricades of people who would not have been able to resist without weapons. But the people's unity made the enemy lay down their arms."
Education Minister Ina Druviete said she would propose at the European education ministers conference on Jan. 29 that students from countries devastated by the tsunami be invited to study in Latvia. This, she said, would be a way to aid those countries affected by the unprecedented disaster in the Indian Ocean.
Salaries for medical workers could rise by 25 percent at the beginning of July, Health Minister Gundars Berzins said through his adviser Normunds Belskis. The raise could be anywhere from 48 lats (69 euros) to 75 lats per month, with wages possibly increasing every six months, he added. Medical professionals have long complained of the chronically underfunded healthcare sector, as their average monthly salary is 190 lats.
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis will meet with Microsoft co-founder and CEO Bill Gates on Feb. 2 in Prague to discuss future cooperation and possibly the opening of a Microsoft production facility in Latvia, Kalvitis' adviser for economic affairs Aigars Stokenbergs said. He added that the prime minister planned to discuss stronger cooperation efforts in the fight against pirated software.