On Saturday, March 15, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins announced that the majority of foreign nationals will be denied entry to in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This means that all travel, by air, railway, sea, and road will be suspended from Monday, March 16, at 00:00 (local time). Latvian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to enter the country after the deadline. Exemptions will also be made to freight and "the movement of persons and vehicles", although the government did not announce further details. Land borders with Russia and Belarus will be closed to public and private transport. Public gatherings of over 50 people will also be forbidden with immediate effect, and school examinations are postponed until May.
Air Baltic has also announced that international air traffic will be suspended from Monday, March 16, through to Tuesday, April 14. Passengers who may qualify for a repatriation flight are nationals of the Republic of Latvia as well as permanent residents of Latvia who wish to return. For more information, please refer to the following website.
As of March 16, there are 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.