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Events in memory of Latvian Waffen-SS units may be canceled over coronavirus

As yet, ten coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Latvia, as brought to the country by tourists to Italy

RIGA, March 11. /TASS/. Events on Legionnaire Day, Latvia’s unofficial day of remembrance of the Latvian Waffen SS divisions, may be canceled over coronavirus fears, local Neatkariga Rita Avize newspaper wrote on Wednesday.

Events in memory of soldiers of the Latvian Waffen-SS units are scheduled for March 16 in central Riga. "If COVID-19 spreads faster and wider, the health minister will have to enforce quarantine, and then it won’t be possible to have the public events on March 16," the newspaper said.

"The next stage is quarantine conditions enforced by the prime minister across the country or in part of it, and finally, an emergency situation, during which rights and freedoms of state and municipal agencies, private individuals and legal entities are restricted, and additional obligations are imposed on them," it went on to say.

This year, the Riga Duma (parliament) received three requests for public events on March 16. A traditional march of former Latvian legionnaires and young radical activists to the Freedom Monument is planned in downtown Riga among other events.

Meanwhile, ten coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Latvia. All those infected had arrived in Riga from Italy.

Two Latvian Waffen SS divisions were created in 1943. March 16 is Latvia’s unofficial day of remembrance of their members. Every year radicals stage public events on this occasion.

After Latvia’s breakaway from the Soviet Union March 16 remained an official memorable date for several years until a march of local nationalists and former SS members sparked an outcry both in Russia and in the West. After that a decision was made to remove it from the list of official commemorative dates.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s Wuhan, a large trade and industrial center, in late December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, describing it as an epidemic with multiple locations. Besides China, major coronavirus outbreaks have been reported in South Korea, Iran and Italy.

As yet, 120 countries and territories, including Russia, have reported confirmed coronavirus cases. In China, over 3,150 people have died, 61,600 people recovered, and the number of cases reached 80,700. Over 120,000 coronavirus cases and more than 4,300 deaths have been confirmed in the world so far.