News2020.02.21 17:39

Coronavirus: people returning from China can claim sick leave

People returning to Lithuania from China can claim 14 days sick leave and request temporary housing if they live with somebody else, the National Public Health Centers said on Friday.

"We recommend for people who were in China to avoid contact," said Rolanda Lingienė from the National Public Health Centre.

Read more: Coronavirus: Lithuania may introduce Schengen border checks

"We advise employers to create conditions for people to work remotely. If the conditions cannot be ensured, the people can contact the National Public Health Center and we will ensure sick leave for 14 days," she said.

"If a person lives with someone else, then under the law [...] the person is eligible for temporary housing, which should be organised by all municipal administrations," said Lingienė.

Avoiding contact is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, she added. One person already received sick leave after a visit to China.

Public health specialists have consulted 176 people who returned from China, Lingiėne said, adding that people call every day.

"A person who travelled to China went to Alytus [in southern Lithuania] after coming back. He felt unwell and called the emergency response center," she said. "Luckily, the diagnosis was not confirmed. He had all the symptoms, and we were worried waiting for the results. But if that person had contracted the virus, the disease wouldn't have had the possibility to spread."

On Friday, Lithuanian telecommunications company Telia brought a German-made thermal camera to Lithuania to be used at the airport.

Read more: Patient behind coronavirus alert in Vilnius released home with flu

But Health Vice Minister Algirdas Šešelgis said the camera was not suitable for measuring people's temperature.

"Experts say it's more suitable for the protection of [unmonitored] territory. It's not well-equipped for large flows of people," the vice minister said.

According to Šešelgis, the Health Ministry may consider acquiring other thermal cameras.

Lingienė said thermovisors are only an additional measure and also "provides a false sense of security".

"It's very problematic due to a long incubation period, contrary to the [regular] flu," she said. "A person might walk past a thermovisor and feel safe although the symptoms have not manifested yet."

Almost 75,000 people have contracted the coronavirus in China and 2,121 people have died, based on the latest figures from the World Health Organization. The virus has already spread to 26 countries.

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