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It's one year since Covid-19 appeared in Latvia

March 2, 2021 is exactly one year since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced in Latvia, LTV has reminded the public.

As LSM reported at the time, the first case was found in a woman who returned from Italy with her family. In the twelve months that followed there have been more than 86,000 confirmed cases, plus more than 1,600 deaths attributable to Covid-19.

It took until March 13 for the government to declare its first state of emergency, which ran until the start of June. Having seemed to negotiate the first wave of coronavirus fairly successfully compared to the experience of many other countries, some restrictions were then eased with Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš saying: "Today is the last day when we have a state of emergency and tomorrow we will return in the direction of normal or everyday life, but with, nevertheless, some restrictions."

May brought the upbeat creation of the "Baltic bubble" travel zone by Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as a "mini-Schengen zone" that allowed greater freedom of movement than was possible in some other parts of the continent and allowed all three Baltic states to suggest they were doing quite well in containing the coronavirus.

By the middle of the year, officials and government agencies even started to boast of being "Ahead of the curve" and started to use Latvia's supposed success as the backbone of a national marketing campaign.

 

That hubris was quickly proven to be misplaced. Unfortunately, subsequent waves of the virus saw Latvia falling behind the curve by many metrics. By September the "Baltic bubble" had well and truly burst as the coronavirus spread more rapidly first in one country, then another. 

One year on, Latvia's vaccination program is the second-slowest in the European Union, behind only Bulgaria. A new investigation by the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica, suggests Latvia's vaccine procurement process has been chaotic.

Vaccination rate, Feb 21, 2021

Currently Latvia's 14-day cumulative morbidity rate per 100,000 of population is around 500, with only Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czechia registering higher figures. The EU average is around 280 cases, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and while morbidity rates do appear to be slowly declining and vaccination rates slowly increasing, there is already a fear that a third wave of the virus, potentially featuring more virulent strains than hitherto, may be imminent.

Covid rates in Europe Feb 25, 2021
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