Baltic countries impose tough measures as Covid infections rise
Riga, Oct 26 (EFE).- Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are facing critical overloads of their respective health care systems amid rising Covid-19 infections and sluggish coronavirus vaccination programs.
The national governments in Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn, which allowed greater freedom for fully-vaccinated persons and people who have recently recovered from Covid-19, are now looking to roll back those freedoms due to the rising number of hospital admissions and relatively low vaccine rates, especially among vulnerable groups such as the elderly.
Latvia, where as many as 3,000 persons could be hospitalized by early November, has been in lockdown since October 21 with a nightly curfew, all public and most private gatherings and shopping limited to all but essential goods – groceries, medicines, hygienic items.
The lockdown, in force until November 15, came after a state of emergency was declared in early October that will last until January
Latvian Minister of Health Daniels Pavluts mentioned the 3,000-patient figure in an open, live-streamed government meeting on Tuesday, at which health officials described plans for a full-scale mobilization from Nov. 2 of all available medical staff, including doctors in private practices and medical students.
Pavluts said at a press conference later that final plans to mobilize medical staff would be drafted in the next few days, and “the mobilization will be mandatory” with doctors and other medical staff paid for their services or their employers compensated for their absence.
Pavluts was non-committal when asked by EFE whether restrictions would ease when the lockdown officially ends on November 15, saying only that the current measures were intended to “break” the upward curve of infections and hospitalizations.
Estonia, which is also facing rising infections and hospitalizations, on Monday closed public events and gatherings to non-vaccinated people, with those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid required to wear masks indoors.
Only those with a Covid pass (proof of recovery or vaccination) will be allowed at sports events, cinemas, theaters, museums, indoor restaurants and other public gatherings.
Speaking to the Estonian parliament, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that opponents of the Covid vaccine and related mandates, were “self-proclaimed ‘freedom fighters’ in Estonia who are stopping society from opening up again.”