This Week in LT – January 22

Klaipėda / J. Stacevičiaus/LRT nuotr.

COVID Statistics Improving

Lithuania currently ranks sixth by 14-day Covid-19 case notification rate among the European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and is the fourth in terms of 14-day death notification rate. Last week, it ranked fourth and second, respectively. Lithuania’s 14-day case notification rate has reached nearly 716 cases per 100,000 people, according to the centre’s data update published on Thursday. Ireland is first among the 30 countries with the 14-day case notification rate of 1,444 cases per 100,000 people. The Czech Republic ranks second with 1,363 cases, followed by Portugal with the rate of 1,215 cases. As for the 14-day death notification rate, Lithuania ranks fourth with the rate of nearly 186 deaths per 1,000,000 people. The first is Liechtenstein with the rate of 391 deaths per million population. Iceland and Finland maintain the lowest rates among the countries monitored by the ECDC.

A total of 174,846 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Lithuania since the the pandemic started, based on the latest data from Statistics Lithuania. It currently has 56,006 active cases and 114,925 recoveries. The coronavirus-related death toll now stands at 2,591. As of January 22, Lithuania registered 1,032 new cases of Covid-19 and 29 coronavirus-related deaths; 57,405 people in Lithuania have received their first coronavirus vaccine shots and 8,739 have been given the second vaccination.


Belarus Power Plant Goes Offline

Belarusian authorities say the country’s new nuclear power plant has been taken offline during testing procedures after the generator protection system was triggered. In a statement on January 16, the Belarusian Energy Ministry announced that Unit 1 at the Astravyets plant was disconnected from the network after the generator protection system was activated.

This occurred “during the pilot industrial operation of Power Unit 1, as part of which the systems and equipment are being tested”, the ministry said, adding that radiation levels in the area were “normal.”

In November 2020, just three days after it was inaugurated near the western city of Astravyets, Belarus’s only nuclear plant halted electricity production after voltage transformers were said to have exploded. The plant resumed operations several days later. Upon its planned completion in 2022, the plant, built by Russian state-owned firm Rosatom and financed by Moscow with a $10 billion loan, is to have two reactor units.

The facility’s construction has been divisive among Belarusians, who suffered greatly as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Belarus saw a quarter of its territory contaminated in the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident. Lithuania, with its capital, Vilnius, just 50 kilometres away, also opposed the project.

Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (


Lithuania’s Response to Navalny Arrest

Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called for EU sanctions on Russia in response to the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. A joint statement was also issued by the Baltic foreign ministers on January 17, demanding his immediate release. “The EU should act swiftly and if he is not released, we need to consider the imposition of restrictive measures in response to this blatant act.” Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė also condemned the arrest, calling it “evidence of Kremlin’s efforts to systematically abuse human rights and democratic freedoms” and saying that the Western democracies must not tolerate this.


Pollution Increases

Due to higher heat consumption during cold weather, the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that since January 15, increased air pollution has been observed in all of Lithuania’s cities. Concentration of KD10 solid particles exceeded acceptable levels on January 17 in Šiauliai, Panevėžis, Jonava and Kaunas. This was due to meteorological conditions (very cold temperatures, low winds, no precipitation, and temperature fluctuations). Persons with respiratory or vascular issues were urged to avoid physical activity outdoors. The EPA provides continuous monitoring of air quality, with results available on the agency‘s website.

With news from and