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2020.03.25 14:35

Choice is between ‘personal freedom’ and ‘natural selection’, says Lithuanian Health Minister

BNS2020.03.25 14:35

Commenting on new quarantine measures, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga has said Lithuanians need to chose whether to accept freedom restrictions and mandatory isolation, or let natural selection come into play.

"European countries [...] are now deciding on the age of patients who will not be intubated,” he told reporters on Wednesday, “as the chances to save [people aged 60-65] are smaller than those for younger patients”.

The government has decided this week that all people arriving in Lithuania will be mandatorily quarantined for two weeks in accommodation provided by municipalities. The measure has been resented by some, particularly those forced to stay away from home.

Read more: Lithuania's new quarantine rules lead to ‘chaos’ and fights

People in Lithuania must pool themselves together in the face of a lethal threat, Veryga said.

"Now it's the moment. Let's discuss what we are going to do and whether we are going to sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of those who will get the chance to survive – or we will choose natural selection," the minister said.

The majority of coronavirus patients in Lithuania have contracted the disease abroad, therefore everyone returning to the country must be isolated, he reiterated.

“Isolated people are now resentful that families are forced to stay with rowdy citizens, we are now starting to hear statements that these are violations of human rights and freedoms," Veryga added.

Veryga also said he opposed calling the state of emergency in the country and hoped it could be avoided.

However, "if the disease spreads, [...] we will not be able to help everyone who would need assistance," the minister said.

Veryga said earlier the existing mandatory quarantine for all returning people would not be lifted, but he vowed to look for exceptions for pregnant women and families with small children.

All Lithuanian citizens were previously asked to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days upon their return from abroad. As of Tuesday, all returness are now placed in mandatory quarantine in municipality-allocated facilities.