News2020.03.25 11:57

Lithuania's new quarantine rules lead to ‘chaos’ and fights 2020.03.25 11:57

Lithuania introduced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all returning people on Tuesday. The same day, the new rules led to reported chaos in transportation and room allocation, while a fight broke out later at night.

The government's spokesman, Giedrius Surplys, said new measures were considered that would place all returnees in single rooms, except for families. Security will also be tightened, he added.

The new measures are being considered after a fight broke out Tuesday night at Railway Hotel in Vilnius, where the municipality rented rooms to quarantine some of the returnees.

Read more: All travelers arriving at Vilnius Airport to be quarantined

One person received a stabbing wound, the police confirmed.

Throughout the first day of the new rules, people shared images of overcrowded rooms and corridors. Jonava Mayor Mindaugas Sinkevičius, who’s also the head of the Association of Lithuanian Municipalities, called the ongoing situation “chaotic”.

“All people who arrive in Vilnius, Klaipėda [...] need to be absorbed by the municipalities, hosted for one night, and then redistributed,” he told LRT RADIO on Wednesday, adding that the municipalities lack information to make decisions.

The government's spokesman, Giedrius, Surplys said he "believes" the rules will be "liberalised".

Meanwhile, Daiva Razmuvienė from the National Public Health Centre said the new measures were required because those returning from abroad were not self-isolating.

“They will [now] be in one place, the municiaplities will be able to pick based on their place of residence, and will easily be able to monitor them,” she told LRT RADIO. “If simptoms appear, they will definately receive help and will be tested.”

“When people do not adhere to self-isolation, the virus spreads in our society,” she added.

The majority of Covid-19 cases in Lithuania were brought from abroad, according to the centre. A number of those confirmed did not adhere to self-isolation rules and visited friends, medical establishments, and families, which led to a public outcry.

However, Surplys called on the society to stop demonising returning Lithuanians.

“Many of them are not infected and good-willingly understand that they need to isolate,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We understand how important it is for them to adhere [to the quarantine] so that the virus doesn’t spread.”

“However, I also ask the society not to demonise” the people who are returning, said Surplys.

The government is also considering developing an app that would help police “communicate and track if the people are adhering to the self-isolation conditions” at home, he said.

Previously, those returning from abroad were instructed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

The new rules, including placing those diagnosed with Covid-19 with “mild symptoms” in municipality-run facilities, were heavily criticised by Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

Read more: Vilnius could transform stadiums, arenas to makeshift hospitals

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".

On Wednesday, Šimašius announced that families with underage children would be allowed to self-quarantine at home, or “other suitable facilities”.

The families will need to have a “safe quarantine place isolated from others,” to “reveal the address and promise to stay there for 14 days,” as well as to accept “random” checks by volunteers and authorities.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme

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