Evaluating the current COVID-19 situation in Lithuania, infectious disease specialist, professor Vytautas Usonis did not conceal that every single infected individual is a risk and the entire country can be seen as a hotspot. TV3.lt reported.
When asked to evaluate the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, the professor emphasised that you can now also find those infected with the coronavirus even in small towns, but nevertheless, we are still facing the first phase of the pandemic for the time being.
“Yes, every infected individual is a certain risk, but in an epidemiological sense, we should talk about the situation where the coronavirus is circulating in our society.
In a qualitative sense, we are currently still only in the first stage of pandemic. Just that on one day, there are more infections and on another – more. However, the fact is that the virus is circulating in our society, people are at risk of infection and it is happening,” he said.
Worry over untraced infections
There are increasingly many cases in the country that cannot be traced back, but according to the professor, this does not mean that the situation is out of control.
“Yes, those sources are tough to establish. When the SARS-COV-2 virus reached Lithuania, it is known that a part of people is not displaying symptoms, there are asymptomatic infections and the infected are very difficult to recognise.
However, we can say that all of Lithuania is, unfortunately, a hotspot and so, we must employ certain measures across the country. How strict they will be will depend on the intensity of the infections. The more of them, the stricter the measures.
However, we are a very small country, our entire state is a hotspot. As of late, we have been seeing cases where those arriving in the country are diagnosed. This only serves to show once again how vulnerable the world is today and displays that we can face an infectious disease outbreak at any time,” V. Usonis said.
He added that the threat is only further proven by how even small towns are recording individual infections and outbreaks, thus the intensity of the hotspot could be far greater.
Masks suffice for now?
When asked if, for now, wearing masks would suffice to contain the situation, the professor agreed that it should be enough for now, but you can always do better.
“What we should comprehend best is that it is the duty of every single one of us to ensure safety for ourselves and also for our society. If we start with ourselves, then the story of masks would also look much better.
Truth be told, I struggle to understand why there was such a response to having to wear a mask again. It is one of the lightest measures, which neither restricts people’s movement, nor events,” he said.
When asked if stricter measures should be imposed and the border to Poland closed, V. Usonis emphasised that it is essential to find a compromise here.
“In regard to lockdown measures, it is essential to look for compromise. In a security sense, in the ideal case, we should all be isolated one each by a range of 100km, but in contemporary society, this is impossible.
Thus, decisions on how strict the measures should be ought to be made after considering all circumstances – both epidemiological and economic, as well as cultural and many others,” the doctor said.
Attacking more after the weather cools?
Both healthcare specialists and society are awaiting the cold season with concern as a rise in COVID-19 infections is expected then.
When asked if wearing masks would help avoid increased infection rates in autumn, the professor reminded that air-transmitted infections becoming more active during the cold seasons is a typical occurrence.
“Every year, toward the end of summer, we begin to think about what will be in autumn. People return after their holidays, university students return to universities, schoolchildren – to schools, we begin spending more time indoors, which forms excellent conditions for air-transmitted infections to proliferate.
If we compare COVID-19 based on clinical indicators to the flu, we have to be prepared that it could happen because it is also an infection transmitted by air. All factors, which create premises for the spread of such an infection, pose an elevated threat,” V. Usonis explained.
Better for children to study remotely or at school?
When asked to evaluate the government’s decision to release both kindergarteners and schoolchildren to their educational institutions, V. Usonis answered that children’s infections with COVID-19 and their capacity to spread the disease are a subject of much discussion.
“In terms of safety, of course, it would be better that they would remain at home. But there are numerous other factors – it is crucial for children’s development that they spend time with their peers. It is also very important for the parents of smaller children that they could actively participate in society. Thus, everything lands on the other side of the scales.
At the moment, there are publications from various countries, which, one must admit, are rather controversial. Pre-school aged children and those aged under ten years old, unlike with the flu, have less of a significance in regard to the spread of this coronavirus. Thus, even if children are infected in a group, it’s unlikely they would bring it back home,” V. Usonis said.
Nevertheless, in regard to children aged over ten years old and teenagers, the professor observed that in this, the situation is somewhat different and greater risks enter the discussion.
“This matter is being discussed particularly intensely in the USA, what measures should be put in place. Thus, you could say that teenagers transmit the virus more so than smaller children,” he said.