2020.05.13 11:11

Coronavirus: 14 new cases in Lithuania, Vilnius bus driver among infected, BNS 2020.05.13 11:11

Lithuania confirmed 14 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country's total infection count to 1,505, the Health Ministry announced on Wednesday.

The number of active Covid-19 cases currently stands at 537, according to the ministry, while 908 people have recovered.

Fifty-four people have died from the coronavirus in Lithuania so far. Four deaths were reported over Tuesday.

Six more people who had the disease died from other causes, according to the Health Ministry.

Lithuania tested 7,878 people for Covid-19 on Tuesday and over 200,000 since the beginning of the epidemic.

Bus driver among infected

One of the people diagnosed with Covid-19 is a public bus driver in Vilnius, the city's public transport company has confirmed.

The employee was driving the No 53 service between Vilnius Train Station and the Fabijoniškės area in the north of the city.

Rolanda Lingienė of the National Public Health Centre said the health authorities were cooperating with Vilniaus Viešasis Transportas (Vilnius Public Transport) to trace the driver's contacts.

Passengers who took the bus should not have been exposed to the virus, she assured, if the driver was observing the protection measures introduced in the city's public transport.

Meanwhile Vilniaus Viešasis Transportas plans to ask health authorities to test all its employees for Covid-19, the municipal company's director Rimantas Markauskas said.

The driver's closest co-workers have already been isolated, he added.

Markauskas said the driver himself asked to be tested for Covid-19 after the disease was diagnosed in his wife who works at Vilnius Clinical Hospital, one of the coronavirus hotspots in Lithuania.

Vilnius a hot zone

Vilnius County, the region around the Lithuanian capital, is a coronavirus “hot zone”, Lingienė told reporters, accounting for 12 of the 14 new cases.

“Five individuals are linked with Vilnius Clinical Hospital. Two are employees, one is a family member of an employee, one is a former patient and one more is this person's close relative,” she said.

In all, the hospital has been linked to 23 coronavirus cases, 11 of them among its employees, according to her.

One-fifth imported cases

Imported coronavirus cases – that is, people who got infected while traveling abroad – make around 20 percent of the total in Lithuania, the country's National Public Health Centre said on Tuesday.

“We have reports about them every day and we also know that borders are opening up,” Rolanda Lingienė, the director of the centre's Vilnius Department, said.

As of May 10, there were 303 coronavirus infections contracted abroad, accounting for around 20 percent of the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. “That’s a really significant number,” Lingienė said.

A third of the cases have been traced to the UK. Nine were detected at airports, preventing the infected people from spreading the infection in Lithuania, Lingienė said.

Imported cases make up half of all cases in Kaunas County, central Lithuania. They account for around 40 percent in Šiauliai and Utena Counties.

Another 40 percent of cases in Lithuania are linked to known hotspots and 20 percent are local cases that are not related to any of the existing clusters. That is a fairly small share of cases, Lingienė said.

“Now we need to focus on border protection and medical-quarantine border control as cross-border movement is relaxed,” she said.

As of Monday, Lithuania is allowing Polish nationals to come to the country for business, work or education. On Friday, Lithuania is opening its borders to Latvian and Estonian citizens.

Read more: Baltic states to reopen internal borders on May 15