Overload of hospitals prompts lockdown discussions in Latvia

Latvia’s Minister of Health Daniels Pavļuts plans to suggest tighter restrictions at the 18 October meeting of the Crisis Management Council. These restrictions should be tight enough to limit the number of interpersonal contacts among residents by at least 40%, as confirmed by the minister’s communication advisor Lāsma Bindere.
The board of New Unity and Unity political parties believe that with the rapid spread of Covid-19 the government has no other option than imposing strict house-sitting regime for the next couple of weeks.
According to the analysis performed by the Ministry of Health and healthcare specialists in the last couple of days, the percentage of contacts in society has reduced to 5-10% as a result of the most recent restrictions. This means the infection continues spreading uncontrollably. On top of that, there are more than 1 100 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment in hospitals.
Scientific forecasts suggest the overload of hospitals and the cessation of scheduled healthcare services for three months would cause «thousands of human lives to be lost to Covid-19».
The minister will propose additional security measures during the state of emergency based on the so-called D+ concept, which was developed by the Crisis Management Council’s secretariat this March following by the ministry’s request for the Alpha Covid-19 variant.
Currently the Delta variant is active in Latvia. This variant of the virus is much more contagious than the Alpha variant.
Read also: Latest Covid-19 cases in Baltics. 1 253 in Latvia, 2 468 in Lithuania, 821 in Estonia
«Our society should put in effort and stop for a moment to halt the spread of the virus. Now more than ever it is vital to promote solidarity, responsibility and protect our medical sector from falling apart and our society from potential deaths. We are at the edge – I urge people to mobilize act responsibly,» said the minister.
This way it is planned to put on hold: sports activities, entertainment activities, cultural events (movies, theatres, concerts), catering, welfare, gathering, religious and other face-to-face services. Normal operations will be permitted only for manufacturing, construction, critical infrastructure and public utilities. It is also recommended to return schools to distance teaching for three weeks after the school break. On top of that, no hobby groups and out of school activities would be permitted to be carried out normally.
No more than ten persons from two households will be permitted to gather indoors and outdoors. Public transports are permitted to carry no more than 50% of their capacity. On top of that, windows will need to be opened. Passengers will need to wear FFP2 type protective masks. Compliance with epidemiological restrictions will need to be monitored.
Among the proposed epidemiological measures is the requirement for workers of all jobs to undergo health checks every day and tests three times a week, as well as shorten work hours to 6 hours and impose a curfew between 19:00 and 06:00. It is also proposed to execute tighter control over violations among private persons and increase fines for legal persons, as well as limit unimportant travel.
To limit contacts, it is highly important to speed up vaccination efforts, especially in risk groups, where the risks of infection and death are the highest. At the same time, it is necessary to raise the short-term capacity of hospitals, expand medical personnel and resource availability and perform regular screenings.
«Vaccination should be performed 24/7. New restrictions should be imposed immediately to make sure they come to force on Wednesday. Every day is vital. After three to fourth weeks it will be possible for residents, vaccinated people first, to return to our current situation, and in two months – to normal life,» says Pavļuts.
Latvia is in 1st place globally when it comes to Covid-19 infection rates. The number of new Covid-19 infections found last week has increased 49% when compared to the week prior. The two-week number of Covid-19 cases per 100 000 residents is 1 266.4, which is twice as much as the peak observed in the second wave.
The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has doubled in two weeks. Today this number went up to 1 114 patients – 133 in critical state and 981 suffering from moderately severe infection. The number deaths caused by Covid-19 has increased 48% in Latvia over the course of a week. The workload of intensive care beds in hospitals all around Latvia is close to 100%.
The Ministry of Health notes that at the current rate of the infection spreading in Latvia, about 4 000 new Covid-19 infection cases and 275 daily hospitalizations are expected to come by the of October. If this happens, healthcare institutions in Latvia will not be able to provide treatment to all patients, which means death rates will go up.