On Tuesday, April 7, the Latvian government announced that it will extend the ongoing state of emergency through Tuesday, May 12, due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The state of emergency was originally imposed on March 13 and due to expire on Tuesday, April 14.
On March 15, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced that the majority of foreign nationals will be denied entry to Latvia, and all international travel, by air, railway, sea, and road has been suspended since March 16. Latvian citizens and permanent residents are exempt from the restrictions, but those returning from countries affected by COVID-19 will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Exemptions will also be made for freight and "the movement of persons and vehicles", although the government did not announce further details. Land borders with Russia and Belarus remain closed to public and private transport. Public gatherings of over 50 people are also forbidden, and school examinations are postponed until May.
As of April 7, there have been 548 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Latvia, including two associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.