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Almost 10,000 people have failed to receive necessary medical assistance and died over the past 12 months after restrictions on planned medical services were introduced in Lithuania last year in response to the spread of COVID-19 within medical establishments, Julius Sabatauskas, a Social Democrat deputy speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas, says.
Mirštantis jaunas vyras.
Mirštantis jaunas vyras.
© Shutterstock

"Due to lockdown management drawbacks, we have lost almost 2.5 times more people than those who died of COVID-19 during the same period. These figures are shocking," Sabatauskas told a press conference at the parliament on Wednesday.

Last year, when the first lockdown was introduced and the coronavirus was spreading within medical establishments, the then Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga made the decision to restrict planned medical services.

Sabatauskas says that although the ban is now lifted, the incumbent government's focus on the management of the lockdown regime is raising concern as no additional action is being taken to improve access to medical services.

"I have turned to the prime minister and health minister as I see a dangerous tendency of the government focusing only on managing the lockdown regime and is completely ignoring the number of excess deaths, which exceeds the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Lithuania by almost 2.5 times. It means that people were diagnosed late, failed to receive necessary treatment and other necessary services. The number of such deaths now stands at around 10,000," Sabatauskas said.

Veryga told BNS the decision to suspend planned medical services came in response to the then situation.

"I would like to remind you of the context. Medics were living in that fear that they would go on sick leave to avoid going to work and getting infected or infecting others," the ex-minister said. "It's easy to speak right now whether we needed or not to suspend them. All the more so, we saw problems in Northern Italy and whats was going on there, and we had no full knowledge of what to manage it. At the time, not only planned services but also urgent services were not provided. What would have happened, had we not taken that process under control and the provision of that assistance that could not be delayed was stopped?'

Veryga also paid attention to the fact that the number of deaths in the country continues to grow even after medical services were resumed.

"It means that there are other problems why people are turning to medics, be it fear or something else," he said.

According to Veryga, the decision to suspend planned services was made following consultations with medics.

"Of course, with the existing knowledge and the existing measures, everything seems unnecessary, and we did not suspend them during the second lockdown," Veryga said.

Official figures show 3,718 people have died of COVID-19 in Lithuania since the start of the pandemic. Almost 50,000 deaths were registered in Lithuania since March, 2020 by March 2021, compared to almost 41,000 deaths over the previous 12 months.

BNS
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