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2020.03.24 10:32

Lithuanian PM may take over coronavirus response coordination

BNS 2020.03.24 10:32

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis may take over the management of the country's response to the coronavirus crisis, as the scope has gone beyond the healthcare system, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said on Tuesday morning.

"The situation is evolving very quickly [and] various problems are emerging: there are logistic issues and the military are being involved," said the minister, who now heads the State Emergency Operations Centre.

"There are also measures to stimulate and salvage the economy, which has gone far beyond the health system," he added.

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

"Naturally, there are discussions about how to elevate [coronavirus response] coordination to the government level, [so that] the prime minister takes the lead and coordinates these processes," he said.

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis hinted on Monday that Veryga would stay on as the head of emergency operations until Wednesday before Skvernelis takes over.

Veryga's handling of the situation has been criticised by President Gitanas Nausėda and his predecessor, Dalia Grybauskaitė.

The parliamentary opposition want the head of the the State Emergency Operations Center to be replaced, saying he has made too many mistakes that led to shortages of protective gear in healthcare facilities and COVID-19 diagnostic kits.

The parliamentary opposition also called on Veryga to be replaced, saying he made mistakes that led to shortages of protective gear for doctors, as well as a lack of Covid-19 testing kits.