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2020.09.15 09:49

Coronavirus in Lithuania ‘under control’, president's adviser says

BNS2020.09.15 09:49

Lithuania has the coronavirus situation under control, while the country's infection rate and economic indicators are better than in most other European countries, an adviser to President Gitanas Nausėda has said.

“The situation is under control and we are among the better performers both in terms of [infection] numbers and in terms of economic growth,” Simonas Krėpšta told the Žinių Radijas radio on Tuesday.

“However, we must not rest on our laurels, because every day is bringing challenges, and we have to respond in a flexible way,” he added.

Lithuania reported over 50 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and Monday, the biggest daily increase since mid-April. The country's infection rate – the number of new cases reported over the last 14 days per population of 100,000 – is currently 16.5, the fifth lowest in the European Economic Area.

Easing quarantine restrictions over the summer was likely to lead to a rise in infections, according to Krėpšta, but the same happened in most other European states, including Germany, Estonia and some Scandinavian countries.

However, Lithuania's healthcare system is not overwhelmed, at least for now, Krėpšta said.

“The growth in the number of infections is slower than it was in spring. We have fewer hospitalised patients and fewer deaths, and we have no outbreaks in the health system. We have a more controlled spread of the virus in society,” he said.

In managing the situation, Lithuania will have to constantly seek a “delicate balance” between healthcare and economic concerns, the advisėr noted.

On Monday, the Finance Ministry updated its 2020 GDP projections, forecasting that Lithuania's economy will contract 1.5 percent compared to last year. This is, however, one of the smallest GDP drops in the EU.

Krėpšta said the better-than-projected economic performance was due to several factors, such as the structure of the economy, the flexibility of the society and businesses, and government support for businesses.

Lithuania's government budget will remain in deficit next year, but it must move toward financial sustainability in the long run, he said.