2020.03.18 09:03

Coronavirus: 34 cases confirmed in Lithuania, first domestic infection

BNS 2020.03.18 09:03

Eight new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Lithuania on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 34, the Ministry of Health said.

One of Wednesday's cases is the first infection contracted in Lithuania rather than abroad.

“We have the first cluster case, a person who was infected in Lithuania by another person who had returned [from abroad],” Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said. “This is a cluster case; we can trace it. A family member was infected by another family member who had come home from abroad.”

The patient belongs to a high-risk group due to their age, he added.

According to the Health Ministry, the person who transmitted the infection defied the mandatory 14-day self-isolation order after coming back from the UK on March 11. He visited a dentist's office, too.

All other Covid-19 cases in Lithuania are thought to have been contracted abroad.

Three people have been placed in isolation and are undergoing treatment at Santara Clinics in Vilnius, the Ministry of Health said. Two of them have returned from abroad and have recently visited Belgium, Switzerland, France and the UK.

One more case was confirmed by Santara Clinics later on Wednesday. A young man reported coronavius symptoms after visiting North Macedonia and the UK.

Two more cases were diagnosed in Klaipėda on Wednesday afternoon. Both patiens returned from Austria.

Read more: Travel updates: Poland opens Warsaw airport for Lithuanians, ferry leaves Germany for Klaipėda

Government to give €31m for medical equipment and protective gear

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian government decided to give additional 30.56 million euros to the Health Ministry for anti-coronavirus measures.

The funds will be borrowed, since the state's reserve is insufficient to cover the costs.

Fourteen million euros will go toward purchasing artificial ventilation devices, while 16.56 million euros will be used to buy protective gear for healthcare workers.

According to the Health Ministry, the country currently has about 900 ventilation devices and plans to buy 400 more.

The government also approved 122,000 euros from the state reserve for the 1808 coronavirus hotline in Kaunas.

Doctor diagnosed with Covid-19

A clinic in Vilnius said on Wednesday one of its doctors who recently returned from Cuba was diagnosed with Covid-19.

She was isolated and is undergoing treatment, Vilnius Šeškinė Clinic announced on social media. Other staff members who were in contact with the patient were also isolated.

“We are carrying out an epidemiological investigation over the other contacts. The list is short. We will contact people who may have been in contact with the infected employee,” the clinic, which provides outpatient care, posted on Facebook.

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga confirmed on Wednesday that a female doctor contracted the virus. "After returning from Cuba on [March 8], she spent four days working," he said.

Vilnius Vice Mayor Edita Tamošiūnaitė told that the doctor in question returned from Cuba in early March and felt fine, had no symptoms and worked for a week. During that time, she received around 80 patients, and the polyclinic is getting in touch with all of them.

"She was in close contact with five staff members of the polyclinic. They do not work and have self-isolated. The premises, the office have been disinfected," she said.

Lina Bušinskaitė, spokeswoman for the health minister, confirmed it to BNS that all coronavirus cases in Lithuania involve people who arrived from abroad.

"The Health Ministry issues official information and official data as soon as it receives it from the laboratory. We don’t have information so far on any local case. All cases so far have been brought in," she said, adding that the ministry is urging "not to mislead the public".

935 tests done to date

Meanwhile, 935 coronavirus tests have been done in Lithuania by Wednesday morning. So far, only people who came back from abroad have tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to the Health Ministry, 193 tests were carried out by the National Health Care Surveillance Laboratory on Tuesday alone. The lab is nearing its maximum capacity as it is capable of carrying out 210 tests a day.

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga told LRT TV that the country's major hospitals will soon be allowed to carry out tests themselves.

Laboratories at Kaunas Clinics, Santara Clinics in Vilnius and Klaipėda University Hospital now have the possibility to carry out tests. However, up until now, tests have only been carried out by the Vilnius-based National Health Care Surveillance Laboratory.

According to the minister, the amount of reagents is limited. Over 10,000 reagents are set to reach the National Health Care Surveillance Laboratory on Tuesday, and another 20,000 should be supplied next week.

The director general of the World Health Organization on Monday urged all countries to test every suspected case of Covid-19 to fight the spread of the virus.

"We have a simple message for all countries: test test test. Test every suspected Covid-19 case," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said. "You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected."

Lithuania was placed under quarantine on Monday.