Five more cases of the coronavirus were diagnosed in Lithuania on Thursday evening, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 41.
Three of the patients diagnosed with Covid-19 on Thursday evening returned from Turkey, the UK and northern Italy. The fourth person was infected after coming in close contact with a person in Lithuania. The fifth case is a medical worker in Ukmergė, northwestern Lithuania.
Out of the seven diagnosed cases on Thrsday, one patient returned from Norway via Latvia and the other one from Spain, the ministry said.
Both have been isolated in Klaipėda University Hospital. Another patient, diagnosed on Wednesday night, is being treated in isolation at Vilnius Santara Hospital.
According to preliminary information, the person recently returned from the United Arab Emirates on a connecting flight via the Netherlands.
Police may restrict park visits
The police have warned they might restrict people's gatherings in public places like parks and playgrounds.
Police Commissioner General Renatas Požėla says people gathering in parks and children's playgrounds poses a threat, and officers might have to make “authoritative decisions” to prevent people from doing it.
“Not everyone realises the threats. We see courtyards full of children, we see filled public spaces, we see tourism spots at least around Vilnius where there are quite a number of people,” the police told journalists on Thursday.
“People need to be explained once again that self-isolation does not mean walking, being in public places or meeting with other people,” Požėla said.
People must self-isolate for two weeks after returning to Lithuania from abroad and they can go outside only to places where they will not meet other people.
Everyone else is advised to to pick remote areas for walking where they can maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from other people. Children must not play contact games.
Ramūnas Matonis, a spokesman for the Police Department, later told BNS that stricter measures could be enforced if such a decision was made by Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga who is leading the Emergency Operations Centre.
The police have received 359 reports on alleged quarantine and self-isolation violations in 24 hours by Wednesday.
Lithuanian was placed under quarantine for two weeks on Monday to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Lithuanian Health Ministry allows treating mild Covid-19 cases at home
"From now on, [doctors] will be able to release patients who develop mild symptoms of Covid-19 for home treatment, provided that they can comply with all self-isolation rules," the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
"Those who do not need specific symptomatic treatment will not be admitted to hospitals," it said.
Patients with more severe symptoms will be hospitalised, but they may be released home when their condition improves, even if the test results remain positive, according to the ministry.
"Isolation is the key condition. This means that if a person is diagnosed with a coronavirus infection and has mild symptoms, they must self-isolate," said Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, noting that a patient with mild symptoms can still transmit the virus to others.
The patient will be required to keep in touch with their general practictioner.
A total of 36 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Lithuania so far.
Withholding personal information
Following complaints from patients and their family members, the ministry will no longer release patients' gender and age details, Lina Bušinskaitė, a spokeswoman for the health minister, told BNS.
All but one cases confirmed in Lithuania so far are thought to have been contracted abroad. A patient in Panevėžys is in a serious condition, while others are treated for mild symptoms.
A woman who was the first to test positive for Covid-19 in Lithuania has recovered and has been released home.
Mobile testing sites
Several mobile coronavirus testing sites opened on Thursday in Vilnius and Kaunas. More are to be launched in other towns across the country.
Only people with pulmonary infection symptoms – fever, cough, difficult breathing – who have visited a foreign country within the last 14 days or have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected coronavirus case will be tested, the Health Ministry said.
People who suspect they may have Covid-19 must call the free hotline 1808.