Latvia weighing up new coronavirus state of emergency

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.
Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Latvia is weighing up whether to declare a new state of emergency in the face of soaring coronavirus rates, the English-language portal of public broadcaster LSM reports.

Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said, following a coalition meeting Monday, that with no sign of an improvement in daily rates and a growing ratio of positive to negative test rates, a return to a state of emergency along the lines of that established when the pandemic began in March might be necessary, LSM reports.

"If the existing safety measures are not enough to reduce the number of cases, then we must move faster so as not to end up in a situation where healthcare does not cope [with the workload]," Kariņš said.

While the Latvian prime minister declined to outline potential specific restrictions, he said they would be appropriate for a "red" level of the country's four-tier emergency classification system.

As recently as late September, Latvia had one of the lowest coronavirus rates per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe, and was one of the few countries whose travelers did not need to quarantine upon arrival in Estonia.

However, its rate per 100,000 as reported by Estonia's foreign ministry on Friday stood at 114.7, and Latvia has been reporting daily rates of new COVID-19 cases ranging between 100 and 250 in recent days.

Krišjānis Kariņš added that overloading of the country's health service, which he said has occurred in other countries lately, must be avoided.

Latvia declared a previous state of emergency on March 13 – the same day that Estonia declared its emergency situation in response to the pandemic – which ran until June 10 (Estonia's ended on May 17).

Kariņš added that support measures for business would follow in the wake of any new state of emergency.

A crisis meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, involving the health ministry and other experts, and the issue will be discussed at cabinet level on the same day, LSM reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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