Health Minister: Latvia will not ditch self-isolation

In Latvia, the current rule of 10-day self-isolation will not be replaced by COVID-19 testing, Ilze Vinkele, Minister for Health told Latvian Television September 25.

The Economics Ministry on Wednesday proposed getting rid of mandatory self-isolation and instead providing testing at airports.

According to the Health Minister, a first test may be negative, but a person may be infected subsequently and may then infect others. COVID-19 testing at the airport creates a false sense of security, and self-isolation for 10 days is more efficient as it prevents the onward spread of an infection, said the Minister.

Nor is it planned to increase the cumulative COVID-19 incidence rates (from the current 16 to 25 infections per 100 000 inhabitants) by which self-isolation should be observed. This was encouraged by the EM and similar measures have been adopted in Estonia and Lithuania, but Prime Minister Krišjanis Kariņš refused to implement it.

The Minister for Health said that Latvia has so far been relatively successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19. The Latvian government has so far strictly followed the advice of experts – epidemiologists, said Vinkele, adding that she does not see the basis for any change in this approach. “We will not save tourism like this,” the Minister for Health said.

Vinkele was also skeptical about the possible renewal of the so-called Baltic bubble, which was previously discussed by Latvian and Lithuanian Foreign Ministers. The minister said she did not see any economic, diplomatic or other reasons why the residents of Latvia should be exposed to a higher risk of infection.

There has also been a recent increase in the number of people with COVID-19 in Latvia. This trend is likely to continue, the Minister for Health said, and it is important that the number of ill people does not grow rapidly and that Latvia does not approach the European average.

According to the Minister, Latvia will not introduce additional restrictions if basic precautions are observed – people with cough and cold will not go to work and will therefore protect their colleagues from any illness, continue to observe distancing, and work remotely as much as possible.

 

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