2020.03.24 09:11

Coronavirus: Lithuania confirms first child coronavirus case

BNS, 2020.03.24 09:11

A three-year-old patient became the first child in Lithuania to be infected with Covid-19. The child's parents, both doctors, also tested positive for the infection, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The child is being treated at home, it said.

Six new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Lithuania on Tuesday evening, on top of the 24 confirmed throughout the day, bringing the country's total to 209. Thirty-nine caes of the coronavirus were diagnosed on Monday.

Some of the new cases were contracted locally, including a member of the non-medical staff at Klaipėda University Hospital.

Ten cases were confirmed at the laboratory of Kaunas Clinics, including three people whose samples were taken at a drive-in station in the city. The other seven cases are foreign citizens.

Four cases were confirmed by the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory. Three people are being treated at the Republican Hospital of Šiauliai, northern Lithuania, and one person is undergoing treatment at Santara Clinics in Vilnius.

Two cases were confirmed by the laboratory of the Republican Hospital of Šiauliai. Both people are isolated and undergoing treatment in the same hospital.

Lithuania extends controls of EU borders

Lithuania's interior minister has extended controls over the country's borders with Latvia and Poland until April 13.

Lithuania introduced the border controls on March 14. Under EU law, border control within the Schengen Area can be initially restored for ten days and then extended for another 20 days, although the total period cannot exceed two months.

Like other EU countries, Lithuania introduced restrictions on the movement of people in order to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Since March 16, foreigners who are not resident in the country are not allowed to come, while Lithuanian nationals are banned from leaving the country without a reason.

All returnees and people with mild symptoms to be isolated

The government announced that all returnees will be placed in 14-day isolation at municipal premises as of Tuesday. However, the order also stipulates that people diagnosed with Covid-19 and displaying only "mild symptoms" should also be placed at municipal accommodation.

Municipalities located at the country's border crossing points are now required to provide round-the-clock transportation of returnees from the airports, seaports, and other border checkpoints to the municipal accommodation.

Read more: Coronavirus: US firm to produce test kits in Lithuania

Authorities are also responsible for providing the isolated people with substinance.

Previously, returnees had to self-isolate at home, and those diagnosed with the virus and only showing mild symptoms could be discharged for home treatment.

The decision was criticised by Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

"If the decision is not reversed, it will affect all of us and will significantly impede the fight against Covid-19," the mayor said on Facebook, adding that he sent a protest letter to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

According to the mayor, the decision will lead to a waste of administrative and medical resources, leaving fewer resources for severely ill patients, which "will cost lives".

The measure will prompt people to avoid being tested for the virus and will lead to serious violations of children’s rights, Šimašius warned.

According to the mayor, the minister's order is impossible to implement, given epidemiologists' forecasts that about two-thirds of the population will contract the Covid-19 virus.

"Nearly 2 million people in Lithuania would have to be relocated from their homes," he said.

Šimašius called on Skvernelis to revoke the order and "take steps to ensure that the health minister is no longer able to make similar decisions that aren't based on science and doctors' experience".

Isolation order in effect in all Lithuanian municipalities except Klaipėda

"Since passengers who are arriving by ferry to Lithuania today were not aware of the requirement when they departed, Klaipėda asked to give them an extra day in order to avoid unrest," Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga told LRT Radio on Tuesday morning.

"A lot of people are arriving in their own cars, and Klaipeda needs to make arrangements as to the parking and logistics of these cars. Thus, were are giving the seaport an extra day, but all other municipalities should put the procedure in place from today," the minister said.

"I understand that this is a challenge for municipal administrations, but they were given a lot of time to prepare. In addition, let's not forget that our hotels are empty [...]. These are really good conditions for our returnees to go into quarantine for 14 days," he added.