VILNIUS – Over 200 students and their parents and teachers are currently in isolation in Lithuania because of confirmed COVID-19 cases, a senior epidemiologist said on Monday.
"We have over 200 students and their parents and teachers isolated during the first four days of the new school year," Rolanda Lingiene, the director of the National Public Health Center's Vilnius Department, told a news conference.
"Imagine what numbers we'd have if entire classes were put into isolation (...) even thought they had no contact with infected people," she added.
Students who have been in secondary contact with coronavirus patients (the so-called contacts of contacts) are not required to quarantine, meaning that if they self-isolate, their parents are not eligible for paid childcare, according to Lingiene.
Parents whose children are in isolation after contact with a patient are considered secondary contacts and are not subject to isolation, she added.
"We'll have to live with the virus for a long time. We have to get used to it," the epidemiologist noted.
Justina Petraviciene of the National Public Health Center told BNS later that there are currently 12 confirmed coronavirus infections linked to educational institutions.
Out of the 12 positive cases, eight of them are students and four are staff members.
Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said that a positive coronavirus case confirmed in a school does not mean that all students of that school need to shift entirely to remote learning.
"Depending on how many people have had contact with the infected person and on the epidemiological situation, decisions are made, but that doesn't mean that the whole educational institution should move to distance teaching and learning," he said.
Lithuania has so far registered 3,100 coronavirus infections. It currently has 1,046 active cases and 1,955 recoveries.
Eighty-six people have died of COVID-19 in the country so far, and another 13 coronavirus-infected patients have died of other causes.