Director of the LAS Institute of Economics Dr. Nina Linde participated in an online expert seminar: “Latvia’s Perspectives in a Pandemic: Economic Recovery and the Future of EU Policy”, organized by the Polish Institute of International Relations (PISM) to present the Institute of Economics’ views on Latvia’s experience in a pandemic. The other participants of the seminar were Alise Balode, Deputy Ambassador of the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the European Union; Kinga Ras, Chief Expert of the Polish Institute of International Relations in the Baltic States, and Lukasz Jurczyszyn, Director of the Brussels Office of PISM.
During the panel discussion, Nina Linde gave a presentation on Latvia’s experience in the fight against the virus. Among the Baltic States, Latvia has the lowest number of viral infections and the weakest restrictions. At the same time, the country quickly decided on an important recovery package to stabilize the country’s economic situation.
The LAS Institute of Economics put forward four main success factors, due to which Latvia has one of the lowest cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 inhabitants in Europe:
1) Rapid response of the government to the outbreak in Latvia, implementing the emergency situation and announcing all related restrictions.
The state of emergency in Latvia was declared on March 12, 2020, when the number of detected cases in Latvia had not reached even 30. Latvia did so at a time when many other European countries were still in the decision-making and evaluation process.
2) High level of professionalism of doctors and medicine in Latvia
The role of science is one of the key aspects in deciding how to overcome any crisis. During the Covid-19 crisis, the Latvian government has treated scientists and medical experts with great respect, following their recommendations and taking into account the instructions of medical professionals before making political decisions. This facilitated the introduction of science-based solutions and partially controlled the virus outbreak, as the majority of Covid-19 cases were traceable.
3) High level of legal awareness among the population.
Latvians comply with the law, as well as the restrictions and recommendations set by doctors and the government. The majority of the public complied with the rules of self-isolation and observed a distance of 2 m; as a result, very few restrictions were recorded.
4) Natural social isolation.
The relatively small population is spread throughout the country, so it allowed to avoid the spread of the virus in regions outside Riga and in the countryside.
The seminar is part of a discussion cycle on the COVID-19 crisis in Central and Eastern Europe.