Lithuania confirmed 139 new coronavirus cases over Tuesday, the National Public Health Centre (NVSC) said, and three more people died of the disease.
Three infections in Vilnius are linked to Jonas Basanavičius Gymnasium. In all, 20 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed at the school.
Five cases were confirmed at another school, KTU Vaižgantas Progymnasium in Kaunas, which currently accounts for 13 infections.
A second case of Covid-19 was confirmed at Martynas Mažvydas Progymnasium in Vilnius, making it a new cluster.
The Foreigners' Registration Centre in Pabradė, eastern Lithuania, has been classified as a new cluster with four infections confirmed on Tuesday. The centre houses foreigners and asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their migration status. All the four people diagnosed with Covid-19 are foreign nationals, according to the NVSC.
The State Border Guard Service later reported about four more infections at the Centre diagnosed on Wednesday.
In all, 60 of the new cases confirmed on Tuesday have been linked to known clusters of infection. Another three infections are linked to foreign travel (to Ukraine, Spain and Uzbekistan), while the source of 37 cases could not be established.
Outbreak among asylum seekers
Based on initial information, all the eight asylum seekers at the Foreigners' Registration Centre contracted the virus in Lithuania.
“Everything started on Saturday. One of the asylum seekers felt unwell and was taken to Santara Clinics [in Vilnius] where the virus was diagnosed,” Giedrius Misutis, the spokesman for the State Border Guard Service, told BNS.
The person is from Belarus and arrived in Lithuania some time ago. It is therefore believed that he contracted the virus in the country.
Three other foreigners who had the closest contact with the man have also tested positive for Covid-19.
“Positive results of another four asylum seekers came in on Wednesday. In all, there are eight Covid-19 cases among asylum seekers,” Misutis told BNS, adding that 12 more residents at the centre are awaiting their results.
The center's staff and Border Guard Service officers will also undergo tests. Five staff members of the Foreigners' Registration Centre are currently self-isolating, including two nurses, a doctor, a social worker and a psychologist.
All the infected residents live on the same floor, Misutis said.
“Special partitions are being installed at the centre to separate people as much as possible based on the NVSC's recommendations,” he added.
Sixty-one foreign nationals currently live at the centre.
Growing number of untraced infections
The growing number of cases where the chain of infection cannot be traced is a worrying trend, according to Rolanda Lingienė of the NVSC.
For several days in a row, untraced cases make up about a fourth of the daily increase in coronavirus infections, she told LRT RADIO on Wednesday morning.
Moreover, the disease is spreading among people over 60 who tend to develop more severe symptoms, she noted.
“Morbidity among people over 60 has been growing since August”, she said, which adds to more hospitalisations.
According to Lingienė, coronavirus patients currently occupy about 37 percent of the country's hospital beds equipped to treat Covid-19.
“We estimate that if Covid-19 patients take up over 70 percent of the beds, it would mean that we need to take [drastic] measures,” Lingienė told LRT RADIO. These measures would include limiting access to non-essential services at the country's healthcare institutions.
“[These measures] would definitely displease and negatively affect a big part of the society,” she added.
3 new deaths
Three people died of Covid-19 in Lithuania on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 109.
One person in their 60s passed away in Kaunas County. Another patient, in their 70s, died in Vilnius County and the third one, who was in their 80s, passed away in Šiauliai County.
Lithuania has so far confirmed 6,505 coronavirus infections, of which 3,461 are active cases, while 2,903 people have recovered.
There are currently 141 coronavirus patients treated in the country's hospitals, 18 of them are in intensive care, according to the Ministry of Health.
As many as 34,747 people in Lithuania are currently in isolation due to the coronavirus. The number includes active cases, people who have been in contact with known infections and travellers subject to self-quarantine requirements.