Latvia announced a month-long Covid-19 lockdown after an unprecedented rise in infections, becoming the first country in Europe to reimpose wide-ranging restrictions amid a new wave of cases in countries on the continent .
The Baltic country has one of the highest rates of new Covid cases relative to the population in the world, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after successfully keeping the virus at bay During months.
“Our health system is in danger (…) The only way out of this crisis is to get vaccinated,” Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš said Monday evening at an emergency government meeting. He said the country’s low vaccination rate was behind the surge in hospital admissions.
Only 57% of the 1.9 million Latvians are fully vaccinated, well below the EU average of 74%. The government imposed a month-long nighttime curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. this week and closed schools and all non-essential businesses.
“I have to apologize to those already vaccinated,” Kariņš said, adding that only essential manufacturing, construction and critical work would be allowed to continue in person.