EU – Baltic States, Health, Lithuania, Security

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 09.04.2020, 19:29

Lithuanian govt advices avoiding mass events over coronavirus, no ban yet

BC, Vilnius, 27.02.2020.Print version
Lithuania's government recommends avoiding mass events over the coronavirus but has not banned them yet, informed LETA/BNS.

"We recommend avoiding such events and just not to attend them. We recommend avoiding them as there's no legal basis to ban them as we don’t have a single confirmed case," Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said after a meeting of the State Emergency Operations Center on Thursday.

The prime minister underlined that "all places of mass gatherings, public events pose a higher risk" and those risks should be assessed by every person individually.

"Every person should consider their attendance of events in closed premises, be it a concert, cinema, sport game or mass events in public places, spaces," Skvernelis said. "There's no legal basis for a ban as we have not a single confirmed case."

Government representatives also advise people in risk groups to avoid mass events, with older people, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses being at higher risk.

The Health Ministry has also recommended postponing the Friday game between BC Zalgiris Kaunas and AX Armani Milan or play without fans but the Lithuanian club decided to hold the game with fans.

Skvernelis, who often attends Zalgiris games in person, says he will not do that since he's in the risk group as he has recently undergone cancer treatment.

Government representatives call on people not to panic, not to rush to shops to buy food, and also urged people not to turn to medical establishments unnecessarily and avoid mass events, if they have recently visited the territories where the coronavirus is spreading and developed any symptoms.

Amid concern that airports might lack volunteers, Skvernelis said he discussed with the chief of defense and the national defense minister the possibility of sending in troops to assists specialists, if needed.

"If those plans are confirmed, then volunteers will be assisted by troops and riflemen," he said.

Regions might be isolated if the virus is detected

Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga also underlined that since the virus has not been detected in Lithuania, the government and other institutions only issue recommendations. Once the first case is recorded, they will become obligations, including decisions on restricting movement in certain territories of Lithuania and banning mass events.

"All maximum measures for the worst-case scenario were discussed, down to, as the minister said, quarantine and isolation of certain residential territories. The state is ready for that, measures are planned, and human resources as well. We hope such measures will not be needed, but if they are needed, they will be introduced immediately," Skvernelis added.

In his words, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga, who's leading the operations center, will have the mandate to ban mass events and ban residents from using material resources.

The health minister also said all tests for the coronavirus are carried out at one laboratory in the country. In his words, it's "a sensible decision due to the chance of that panic spreading".

Up until now, 59 tests for the coronavirus have been carried out in Lithuania, with all coming back negative. According to the minister, the laboratory is capable of carrying out up to 210 tests a day but there's no need for that yet.

"There are another two institutions in Lithuania, having the same equipment. They will also be required to acquire the necessary reagents, although they don’t need them as yet, but just to have then, if the need for a higher number of residents emerges," Veryga said.

Over 2,800 people have already died from the new COVID-19 virus worldwide and over 82,000 people have contracted the new virus.

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