News2020.05.26 18:00

Coronavirus in Lithuania ‘under control’, health authorities say

The coronavirus spread in Lithuania has been brought under control, a National Public Health Centre official says, although lifting the quarantine may still be premature.

“We still have the virus spreading within the country, though the spread is limited,” Rolanda Lingienė, the head of the centre's Vilnius division, said on Tuesday. “This virus and this infection are so new that we have no epidemiological criteria we could use to say for certain that there's no point in having quarantine or other measures.”

According to the official, the epidemic could be considered completely over, if no new cases were reported over the duration of two times the incubation period of Covid-19. “We definitely don’t have that luxury yet,” she said.

The incubation period, which is the time between becoming infected and the onset of symptoms, is on average 5-6 days for Covid-19, but can last up to 14 days, according to the World Health Organization.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said earlier on Tuesday the government would consider extending the quarantine until the end of June. The decision is expected on Wednesday.

Read more: Lithuania considers extending quarantine until end of June

Members of the opposition have criticised the government for prolonging the quarantine, and the liberals have proposed a law that would require the parliament's backing for extending restrictions.

Spread under control

“We can say the situation around the coronavirus infection has been brought under control,” Lingienė said, specifying that health authorities are able to trace the origins of every new infection.

“I would like to note that many people are involved in that,” she added.

Over the past 14 days, Lithuania has reported 5.9 new cases of Covid-19 per population of 100,000, one of the lowest rates in the EU, according to Lingienė.

“We are in that best group among EEA countries: Estonia, Latvia and Poland have had between 6 and 13.5 new cases per population of 100,000 over the 14-day period,” she said.

That rate stands at 74.7 in Sweden.

Last week, 82 new coronavirus cases were reported in Lithuania. All but nine were linked to existing hotspots or contracted abroad.

Five people were diagnosed with the virus last week after returning from Russia, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands. One imported case was reported this week.

A total of 1,639 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Lithuania so far. One fourth, or 401, are considered active cases, while 1,165 people have recovered.

Sixty-five people have died from the virus.

LRT has been certified according to the Journalism Trust Initiative Programme

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