Finland to help Covid-hit Latvia

Latvia made an official request to EU countries for assistance due to the country’s deteriorating Covid situation.

Finland received Latvia's request for assistance on October 27. Image: Riitta Majala, sairaanhoitaja / Meilahden teho-osasto, HUS

Finland intends to respond to Latvia's request for assistance due to the country's deteriorating Covid situation, Safety and Health Department adviser Lasse Ilkka from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health told Yle Radio Suomi on Thursday.

The number of hospitalised patients in Latvia jumped to more than 1,400 on October 25. Latvia had initially set a limit of 3,000 hospital patients before it would request international assistance.

Finland received Latvia's official request for assistance through the EU's civil protection mechanism on Wednesday, said Ilkka.

Latvia is requesting medical equipment. Sweden says it will assist Latvia by sending 120 respirators along with other equipment.

"Yesterday we sat down to figure out what we could offer them. We have access to a small number of medical devices that we can likely ship to Latvia. If there is a need, we may also be able to send them protective gear, but we do not yet know whether they need these," Ilkka said.

According to Ilkka, Latvia is asking for medical equipment specifically for hospital care and intensive care, as the strain on the hospitals in the country is still "very heavy" due to the pandemic.

Ilkka estimates that Finland has a lot of hospital supplies in stock that they would be able to share, but not a surplus of medical equipment. Therefore, the number of medical devices that can be sent to Latvia will be small.

The decision on how much Finland will be able to assist Latvia with medical equipment and hospital supplies will be made on Thursday, said Ilkka. The matter is decided jointly by the health ministry and the Ministry of the Interior.

According to Ilkka, Finland has not had to make similar requests for assistance through the EU's civil protection mechanism during the pandemic.