Kariņš: more widespread use of face masks will likely be needed in Latvia

In the current epidemiological situation, Latvia cannot avoid more widespread use of face masks to limit COVID-19 spread, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš told Latvian Television August 26. 

Latvia is the “last island in Europe where the infection has not spread widely” and the Ministry of Health has to start thinking how to protect the population from COVID-19 while allowing the economy to continue to operate, said Kariņš.

If the situation in neighboring Lithuania and Estonia deteriorates and all travelers from these countries will have to comply with 14-day self-isolation, this would actually mean stopping the movement of people, said Kariņš.

According to data compiled by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the 14-day cumulative number of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in Lithuania has already reached 13.7. It is the highest since April. The situation is also deteriorating in Estonia. In Latvia, the 14-day self-isolation must be observed when entering from countries where such an indicator exceeds 16.

Kariņš said the Ministry of Health will have to recommend how we can live with the situation so that “there is no need to shut down the economy.”

“I don't see how we will be able to avoid using face masks more,” Kariņš said.

Masks could significantly reduce the risk of infection if people infected with COVID-19 arrive in Latvia.

Kariņš pointed out that Latvia currently has two choices – to isolate itself from the whole world or to figure out what to do to reduce risks and protect citizens. Closing borders will destroy the economy, so it is necessary to think about how to protect society without having everyone stay at home, said Kariņš.

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