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No herd immunity possible by mid-year: Health Minister

Latvia will not be able to achieve crowd or so-called 'herd' immunity to Covid-19 to any significant level by the middle of the year, Health Minister Daniels Pavļuts (Development/For!) said February 23, according to LSM's Latvian language service.

Speaking during a meeting of the crisis management council the Health Minister predicted that crowd immunity to Covid-19 in the country could be reached in August or September, but not earlier.

However, the minister emphasized that the government and his ministry are currently "operating in conditions of high uncertainty" and therefore all predictions should be regarded with a good degree of caution.

Pavļuts explained that herd immunity could only be achieved if Covid-19 vaccines were delivered and administered on time and depends on the public's willingness to be vaccinated. 

However he did predict that critical patient groups -- seniors, residents of social care centers, people with chronic disease -- could be vaccinated by June.

During the Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, an emergency situation was declared in Latvia to control the new coronavirus. The situation was stable in the summer, but at the end of September the incidence of the disease increased sharply and had been high ever since, though with some variation. 

The government re-imposed a state of emergency in November, and it has subsequently been extended to April 6.

According to the government-backed traffic light principle, easing restrictions can only be considered if morbidity rates fall to an average of 200 cases per 100,000 people over a 14 day period. Despite modest recent falls in Latvia's morbidity rate, it remains at more than twice that level at around 500 cases per 100,000 people. 

Meanwhile public discontent is growing over both the ongoing restrictions on personal behavior and the slow pace of Latvia's vaccine rollout compared to many other countries.

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