'Baltic bubble' travel zone to remain intact, says Foreign Minister

Arrivals into Latvia from Estonia and Lithuania will not have to go into 14-day quarantine next week after all despite fears expressed earlier this week that the COVID-19 infection rates in both countries would likely see them included on Latvia's list of 'yellow' countries requring arrivals to self-isolate.

The news came from Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs who tweeted that according to Health Ministry statistics, both countries remain below the threshold level of 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Saskaņā ar Veselības ministrijas informāciju Lietuvas un Igaunijas COVID saslimstības rādītāji ir zem 16 saslimušo uz 100 000, līdz ar to pašizolācija, ceļojot no un uz šīm valstīm nākamajās septiņās dienās nav nepieciešama

— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 4, 2020

Rinkēvičs then tweeted in English, too.

There is good news- number of Covid cases in Lithuania and Estonia are below 16/100000, so no selfisolation is required travelling to Latvia. I sincerely hope that situation will further improve in both countries. Stay strong, stay healthy!

— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) September 4, 2020

However LRT News in Lithuania was reporting that the infection rates in both Estonia and Lithuania do indeed exceed the 16 case threshold, and those are the numbers currently quoted on the website of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The ECDC currently quotes a figure of 4.3 for Latvia, 16.1 for Lithuania and 16.4 for Estonia.

Later Health Ministry officials tried to explain the apparent anomaly by saying they were using figures supplied direct by their partners in Lithuania and Estonia rather than the ECDC figures.

The list of countries requiring self-isolation was subsequently published by the Latvian Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC) in a new format, complete with the lower figures for Estonia and Lithuania but with all other figures corresponding to the ECDC figures. Estonia's rate was quoted as 15.95 cases per 100,000 and Lithuania's as 15.7 cases. Interestingly, Estonia's rate is the only one to be calculated to two decimal places rather than one.


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