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2020.02.26 15:00

Coronavirus: Lithuania declares state emergency

updated
LRT.lt2020.02.26 15:00

Lithuania has on Wednesday declared a state emergency as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, Lithuania confirmed its first case of the virus on Friday.

UPDATE: Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

The first coronavirus case was confirmed in Lithuania early Friday morning, the country's Health Ministry said. The female patient was diagnosed with the virus after returning from Verona, Italy on February 24.

The patient is now isolated at a hospital in Šiauliai, northern Lithuania.

State emergency mechanism

According to the government, this will help coordinate the work of the responsible institutions, utilise equipment in state reserves, and also streamline other procedures.

Read more: Coronavirus: Lithuania may introduce Schengen border checks

Lithuanian Health Vice Minister Algirdas Šešelgis said the situation in Lithuania is fully under control.

“The situation in Europe is quickly evolving,” he said. “There is an increasing number of areas affected by the virus, which may rise rapidly.”

The government will now review all recommendations issued to the residents in Lithuania. Some regulations will become mandatory.

Finance Minister Vilius Šapoka said the state emergency status will allow institutions to communicate effectively and be flexible.

The government has allocated 150,000 euros to the Health Ministry to purchase protective equipment.

Lithuania will also set up a State Emergency Operations Center, headed by Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, to coordinate efforts against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, according to BNS.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, more than 80,000 cases of the coronavirus have been registered and almost 2,700 people have died of the disease globally.

Read more: Lithuania's tourists may get refunds for trips to China, northern Italy

What is a ‘state emergency’?

The status allows appropriate institutions to utilise additional resources to ensure public safety.

For example, the procedure to use the state’s medical equipment resources will be simplified. The process to replenish supplies will also be easier, and will not require public procurement tenders.

The government can also make some recommendations mandatory.

The last time Lithuania declared a state emergency across the country was in July last year after a prolonged drought.

Read more: As spare parts dry up, Lithuanian businesses to feel coronavirus effects

CORRECTION: The earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Lithuanian Health Vice Minister Algirdas Šešelgis as the health minister.

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