312 Latvians require urgent repatriation

312 Latvian nationals require an urgent return to the country, while those who wish to repatriate, but aren't urgent cases, number in the several thousands, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkevičs (New Unity) speaking on Latvian Radio April 15.

Outside the number of those requiring urgent assistance, some have decided to return to Latvia through their own means, and yet a third group is able to stay abroad a while longer. Some people can no longer afford to stay abroad due to socioeconomic considerations, but only one family from Ireland has used the option to borrow money from the government.

“Some of the issues have already been solved, but it was a big problem and we're still having problems returning a group of travelers from Peru. In fact, I'd say that maybe the only place where we haven't established anyone is Antarctica,” said Rinkevičs.

The number of urgent repatriation requests includes 40 nationals in India, who have had difficulties leaving the country due to India's internal travel restrictions and European Union restrictions. There are also complications with repatriation nationals in New Zealand and several Latin American countries.

As previously reported, eight repatriation flights to and from Amsterdam and Frankfurt were announced, with the first flying in today. They have received special permission from the Transport Ministry (taking into account the capacity of the Latvian healthcare system) to fly in and out of Riga International Airport. The cost of repatriation flights is covered by the passengers, not the government.

“We can see throughout the world that the fight against this virus is long and hard, and that's why the situation has been prolonged, and that's why we're also seeing a completely different work volume and work dynamic than at the beginning of March,” said the minister.

Also reported, on April 7 Latvia's cabinet decided to extend the current state of emergency in the country by one month. Consequently the current status - which allows the government extra leeway in its legislative and financial decision-making - will remain in place until May 12.

The original state of emergency had been due to expire on April 14.

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