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Latvia cancels planned surgeries to clear beds for COVID-19 patients

FILE PHOTO: A health care worker wears protective suit as she waits for patients to be tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) next to a mobile laboratory in Riga, Latvia March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

(Reuters) – The Latvian government has cancelled most planned hospital operations from Monday amid an increased need for beds and staff as COVID-19 cases climb, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“Epidemiological predictions suggest that hospital use of COVID-19 patients will continue to increase rapidly”, the statement said.

Hospitals will continue to provide only urgent and life-saving operations, such as chemotherapy or invasive cardiac procedures, the news portal Delfi reported.

Latvia confirmed 2,408 new novel coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record surge, and 21 deaths, BNS news wire reported.

Only 52% of Latvian adults have been fully vaccinated thus far, well below European Union average of 75%, EU health figures show.

The country had reported the second-worst infection numbers in the EU, after neighbour Lithuania, in the fortnight leading up to Sunday, with 864 new cases per 10,000 population.

Latvian President Egils Levits tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, his office said, prompting Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto, who had had breakfast with Levits a day earlier, to self-isolate.

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