HELSINKI (AP) — Latvia will enter into a nearly monthlong lockdown, including a curfew, on Thursday due to the worsening coronavirus situation in the Baltic country where the vaccination rate is among the lowest in the European Union.
Following an emergency government meeting late Monday, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said that the lockdown from Oct. 21 until Nov. 15 and accompanying drastic measures are needed as the pandemic continues to spread quickly, causing hospital wards to fill up with COVID-19 patients amid scarce health care resources.
Only slightly over half of Latvians are now fully vaccinated, and Karins admitted that his government had failed in sufficiently luring citizens to get jabs.
“There are many people, too many people, who are not vaccinated,” Karins said, as quoted by the Latvian public broadcaster LSM.
So far Latvia, a nation of 1.9 million, has recorded some 190,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 2,900 deaths.
The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control of Latvia said on Monday that the country’s COVID-19 incidence rate per 100,000 population stands now at 864, currently among the highest in the world.
A nationwide curfew will be imposed between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. as of Thursday. Most stores will be closed and indoor and outdoor gatherings, including entertainment, sports and cultural events won’t be allowed.
Karins and Health Minister Daniels Pavluts apologized for the stringent measures to those Latvians who had already been vaccinated.
“We, the government and society as a whole, haven’t succeeded in achieving a high enough vaccination coverage. So we must ask you to suspend your lives for several weeks to avoid the worst possible scenario,” Pavluts said.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic