Lithuanians are self-isolating in an exemplary way; yet can the quarantine be eased?

Family portrait ‘In Nature’ © Adas Vasiliauskas

Latest analysis shows that Lithuanians, compared to the neighbouring Baltic States, go to shops and parks the least often, as well as rarely use public transport. This is a great help in fighting the spread of the infection. Researchers of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU) and the Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI) emphasize that people’s mobility is one of the most important factors that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

Researchers of LSMU and LEI, as well as members of the public group www.united4health.lt  continue the epidemiological monitoring of the spread of COVID-19 infection in Lithuania and publish the latest modelling and estimated results on the Internet.

Researchers are currently conducting a detailed analysis of the mobility of the country’s population using Google systems (Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports). Although the capacity of this tool is limited, in the hands of researchers, it helps to see the situation in our country, and also allows for a preliminary comparison of changes in the mobility of Lithuanians and other European countries and the impact of changes on stopping the epidemic.

Patreon the Lithuania Tribune

In the latest analysis, conducted on April 10, it has been compared how often residents of Lithuania and other European countries go to shops, as well as how often residents use public transport to get to and from work. The analysis of attendance of transport stations and estimated workplaces helped in obtaining these data. It was also determined how often Lithuanians stay at home and visit parks.

Having analyzed the number of visits to shops (Fig. 1), researchers determined that Lithuanians visit the grocery and other stores, as well as pharmacies, the least often compared to Latvians and Estonians. Residents of neighbouring Poland visit shops even less often. The mobility results show that more severe restrictions enforced in the countries that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the most, Italy and Spain, are also paying off.

Researchers claim that so far, there is no need to severely restrict mobility in Lithuania; on the contrary, the improving morbidity situation allows one to consider easing certain quarantine conditions. However, researchers note that the restrictions need to be eased gradually, taking into account the changing epidemiological situation.

The analysis of the results of the transport (stations) operation and departure to workplaces (Fig. 2) showed that in this case as well, Lithuania is the leader within the Baltic and Nordic group, presenting a significant decrease in mobility.

The analysis of the data on staying at home and visiting parks (Fig. 3) shows that Lithuanians are also subject to quarantine in a disciplined manner. This leads to a conclusion that Lithuania can be confidently classified as one of the most disciplined countries, despite the visible increase in the number of people in parks and forests.

The Government will soon have to make a decision on whether to extend or to ease the quarantine, and many hope for the easing of quarantine conditions. These expectations are reasonable, as the epidemiological situation has been successfully managed and is improving; moreover, the requirements enforced due to the quarantine were followed in a rather disciplined manner. Nevertheless, researchers emphasize that the liberalization of the quarantine conditions increases the risk of easier spread of the virus, and that objective data and modelling of the most appropriate scenarios must be taken into account in decision-making.

Fig. 1. Comparison of Lithuanian population mobility with other countries in terms of visiting shops (data from Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports).

Fig. 2. Comparison of Lithuanian population mobility with other countries in terms of taking public transport to and from work, based on the attendance of transport stations and monitoring of probable workplaces (data from Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports).

Fig. 3. Comparison of Lithuanian population mobility with other countries in terms of staying at home and visiting social gathering places, parks (data from Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports).

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