RIGA - Thanks to vaccination, the Covid-19 pandemic could be brought to an end in six months to a year, Jurijs Perevoscikovs, director of the Infectious Diseases Risk Analysis and Prevention Department at the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told members of the press today.
He said that for two weeks in a row, the number of cases of Covid-19 established in Latvia and elsewhere in the EU has been declining quite rapidly. This means that the risks of infection in the near abroad are gradually decreasing.
Last week, there were 21 cases in Latvia where people had been infected abroad, but in the last six weeks, there were a total of 127 such cases. In first place are arrivals from Russia, in second place are arrivals from Germany, and Turkey and Sweden are in third place in regards to the number of infections brought into the country.
In general, assessing the situation around the world, Perevoscikovs pointed out that it is quite peculiar. The situation shows that in South America and the southern Africa region, Covid-19 incidence is rising rapidly, which is explained by seasonal patterns. This should be taken into account when traveling to distant countries.
"It is hoped that in six months, maybe a year, the epidemic could be brought to an end thanks to vaccination. However, while the virus is still prevalent and is spreading in several countries, one should be vigilant and do everything possible to protect themselves and the people around them from infection,'' Perevoscikovs said.
The expert explained that people who have not been fully vaccinated should consider the need for travel very carefully.
Before traveling, persons should find out when the vaccination certificate will take effect and whether the full vaccination course has been completed. Travelers should also consider whether they have a chronic illness and whether they and their relatives are in a risk group.
Travelers should also consider what to do if they need to go into self-quarantine abroad or if they are infected with the virus abroad.
"We should be careful, because the situation can change very quickly. Two weeks ago, we did not think that the infection rate in Great Britain will increase, but new strains are emerging. These new strains could be the biggest concern," Perevoscikovs added.
With regard to travel and testing, the expert pointed out that the type of tests used at the respective destinations should be checked before traveling, and test requirements may differ for those who are vaccinated and those who are not.
Perevoscikovs also called on travelers to take face masks, disinfectants and thermometers with them on their travels. It should also be checked whether the hotels they are staying at are properly disinfected. Disinfectants brought from home or purchased abroad will be useful not only for hand disinfection, but also for disinfecting certain items in hotels.
Nor should persons forget distancing and not to come into contact with potentially sick people. Although the risk of infection on airplanes is minimal, travelers should consider whether to have a meal on airplanes because masks are being removed at that time.
With regard to travel to so-called third countries, the expert noted that the situation was less clear-cut. In some of these countries, the epidemiological situation is predictable and experts can rely on official indicators. Such a country, for example, is Australia, but there are countries where the situation is unclear, such as Egypt.
With regard to the forthcoming government meeting on the easing of travel restrictions, the expert noted the need to maintain self-quarantine after returning from third countries where the epidemiological situation is unclear or infection rates are high.