This Week in LT – February 26

Capital on the eve of February 16th / J. Stacevičius photo LRT

COVID-19 Update

Lithuania has registered 538 new coronavirus infections as of February 25. Lithuania’s 14-day coronavirus infection rate currently stands at 244.9 per 100,000 people. Overall, 196,470 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Lithuania since the pandemic started.

A total of 3,209 people have died from Covid-19 in Lithuania so far. The overall number of deaths directly or indirectly related to the coronavirus has reached 6,251. Overall, 143,920 people have received their first coronavirus vaccine shots so far and 70,853 have been given the booster.

People’s increased mobility and the spread of the British coronavirus variant are slowing down progress in bringing the pandemic down, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Feb. 25.

Mobility has returned to the pre-Christmas levels and the increasing number of contacts allows the virus to spread, according to Šimonytė. Lithuania reported eleven new cases of the British coronavirus variant, bringing the total number of known cases in the country to twelve.

The lockdown in Lithuania is in effect until March 31.


EU Approves New Sanctions

On 22 February, EU ministers of foreign affairs meeting in Brussels made a political decision to impose targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment and the crackdown on peaceful protesters under the EU global human rights sanctions regime, or the so-called European Magnitsky Act.

According to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, we know that targeted sanctions can be effective and work, if used meaningfully. “Today’s agreement is the first step on the road to success. It is important not to limit ourselves to individuals who are directly responsible for the conviction of Alexei Navalny. We must seek to put on the sanctions list also those whom the regime has used to orchestrate the case against Navalny, including persons from Putin’s inner circle. If we want to help civil society in Russia, the best way to do this is to impose sanctions on those Russian judges and prosecutors, who are part of the corrupt law enforcement system and legitimise the systematic repression of Russia’s democratic institutions, free media and political opposition by the regime,” said the Foreign Minister.

Sanctions under the EU global human rights sanctions regime can be imposed on those responsible for the acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). Other human rights abuses can also fall under the scope of the sanctions regime where those violations are widespread, systematic or are otherwise of serious concern.


Increased Air Pollution Levels

An increase in air pollution has been recorded in Lithuania in recent days and residents are advised against exercising outdoors and to ventilate their homes only during daytime. The amount of particulates exceeded the limit value at air quality stations in all cities this past week and an increase in the concentration of nitrogen dioxide was also recorded, according to Vilma Bimbaitė of the Environment Protection Agency. She said that the forecasts are not very comforting as that polluted air mass is expected to stay until at least the weekend. The increase in air pollution is attributed to polluted air masses over the whole of Europe, and the existing weather conditions are not favourable to their dispersal due to the absence of winds.

With news from and BNS