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This year isn't suitable for travel, Lithuania's chief epidemiologist warns

VILNIUS - Travelers may have to self-isolate on return to Lithuania even if they travel to a country that is not on the coronavirus "blacklist", Lithuania's chief epidemiologist warned on Monday. 

"Obviously, this year isn't suitable for travel. We've already had cases where people (...) were unhappy that they had to go into isolation on return (to Lithuania)," Loreta Asokliene told a news conference. 

"It’s better to visit the beautiful places of Lithuania this year," she added.

As of Monday, Lithuanians are required to self-isolate for two weeks on return from Croatia. Isolation is optional, but recommended for travelers from Iceland and Spain. 

The Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland are also among the countries that may be added to the regularly updated list of coronavirus-affected countries, the chief epidemiologist said. 

The mandatory 14-day isolation requirement currently applies to Luxembourg, Sweden, Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania, too.

As of Monday, the requirement has been lifted for Lithuanians returning from Ukraine 

Authorities are considering following the lead of Latvia and introducing questionnaires for arrivals in all three Baltic countries, Asokliene said.  

Patients can't be held hostage to e-health system failure, Lithuanian president says

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government's urgent action to resolve the e-health system crisis should focus not only on data recovery, but also on ensuring patients' access to public services, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday. 

E-health, the largest and most complex of the systems run by the Center of Registers, has been down for a week after the center's server room was flooded by a burst water pipe on July 20. 

"The flooding of the Center of Registers' servers has revealed failure by public institutions to take sufficient steps to ensure the physical security of important registers and databases," Nauseda said in a press release.

Earlier on Monday, the president discussed the e-health crisis by phone with Economy and Innovation Minister Rimantas Sinkevicius and Justice Minister Elvinas Jankevicius, who is standing in for Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga while he is on vacation. 

The ministers told Nauseda that the system would be back online this week and that all data would be restored, the president's office said in a press release. 

Sinkevicius assured Nauseda that all premises where public data are stored would be additionally inspected and "mentioned the need for new premises for the public data center", it said. 

Nauseda instructed Jankevicius to take steps to ensure that patients receive all the subsidies for medicines they are entitled to, saying people should not have to pay out of their own pockets for public institutions' failure to properly handle their data. 

"The state must ensure access to public services for patients and make it possible for medical workers to do their job without hindrance," the president said.  

Nauseda told both ministers that the state must provide all the necessary resources to get the e-health system back up and running as soon as possible.

The system's continued uninterrupted functioning must be ensured, too, according to the press release.

Polish president to give state award to Lithuanian PM

VILNIUS - Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis is going to Poland on Tuesday to receive a state award from President Andrzej Duda. 

The Grand Cross of the Order of Merit for the Republic of Poland has been awarded to Skvernelis in recognition of contribution to strengthening the dialog between the two neighboring countries. 

Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas, received the same award last year. 

As part of his visit, Skvernelis will meet with the Polish president and its prime minister to discuss measures to strengthen resilience to historical distortions, bilateral relations, ongoing joint projects, and a possible second wave of COVID-19.

The Baltic countries and Poland have in recent years voiced concern over Russia's efforts to play down the 1939 Soviet-German non-aggression treaty which helped pave the way for World War Two.  

In protest, the Lithuanian and Polish presidents earlier this year boycotted a major Holocaust commemoration event in Jerusalem where Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited to deliver a key speech.   

The Russian parliament has registered an initiative to reverse the 1989 condemnation of the Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact. 

Signed in August 1939, the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, contained secret protocols that divided Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence. It led to the invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations in 1940. 

The meetings in Warsaw will also focus on Via Baltica Rail Baltica, Harmony Link and other ongoing European-scale infrastructure projects, according to the Lithuanian government's press release. 

On Wednesday, Skvernelis will attend an event marking the 610th anniversary of the Battle of Zalgiris (Grunwald). Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda will also travel to Poland to attend the commemoration. 

Polish president to give state award to Lithuanian PM

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