Coronavirus in Estonia: All you need to know ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Coronavirus infecting SARS-CoV-2 cell culture.
Coronavirus infecting SARS-CoV-2 cell culture. Source: NIAID-RML/(CC BY 2.0)

Following the first cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus diagnosed in Estonia in late February, the Health Board (Terviseamet) and government have issued advice, recommendations and restrictions to residents of Estonia.

ERR News has rounded up this information and you can find it below along with emergency contact information, an overview of the situation in Estonia and charts showing the diagnostic rate by day.

This page is regularly updated.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Estonia overview:

  • The emergency situation (eriolukord) has been replaced by another, less severe situation, usually translated as "emergency" (hädaolukord).
  • A crisis phone line has been launched to answer coronavirus-related questions and for psychological first aid. The free number to call is 1247.
  • As of October 30, a total of 4,771 people have been diagnosed with the disease.
  • As of October 30, 73 people have died after contracting the COVID-19 virus. The last death was on October 19.
  • Currently, 40 people are being treated in hospital and 547 people have been discharged.
  • In total, 259,758 tests have been carried out by the Health Board since January 31.
  • There are estimated to be 755 active cases in Estonia.
  • Estonia has a new case rate of 56.81 per 100,000 people as an average of the last 14 days.
  • Most of the cases are in Harju, Saare, Ida-Viru, Tartu, Pärnu and Võru counties.
  • Information about how to get tested is here.
  • Online data analysis tools have been developed by the University of Tartu and Koroonakaart.
  • You can also download "HOIA" Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app.

The above graph was made and is maintained by Koroonakaart.

A timeline showing how Saaremaa has become the epicenter of Estonia's coronavirus outbreak can be read here.

Restrictions and changes in place in Estonia

Below is a list of restrictions implemented to stop the spread of coronavirus. New restrictions and changes are marked below. The latest news from the Estonian government can be viewed here.

New restrictions

  • New: From October 10, quarantine for new arrivals and close contacts has been reduced from 14 days to 10. More info can be read here.
  • New: Travelers from Finland, Latvia and Lithuania can skip quarantine from October 19 if they test negative for covid-19 within 48 hours of arrival in five cases: they are coming to Estonia to work, study, visit a health care institution, in the case of unavoidable family events, or for the purpose of transit.
  • New: Travelers from over 30 European countries must quarantine on arrival in Estonia from Monday, November 2. More info can be found below in the 'international travel' section.
  • New: From September 28, Estonian citizens and residents cannot travel as tourists to Finland.
  • New: A nationwide alcohol ban will be introduced from midnight on September 25. Alcohol cannot be purchased between midnight and 10 a.m. It is in place until November 24.
  • New: From September 14, Latvians, Lithuanians and Finns can travel to Estonia without quarantine as long as the infection rate is 25 per 100,000 or below. For other countries, the limit is still 16 per 100,000.
  • New: From September 1, a rapid test and follow up test for coronavirus can be taken instead of a two week quarantine period when returning from a country with an infection rate of 17 or more. This only applies to people going to or traveling for work.

Visas and registration

  • Foreign nationals, whose visa or visa-free stay period expires, may stay in Estonia until the end of the emergency situation if they were in the country legally as of March 12, 2020 and they cannot return to their home country. 
  • More information can be found on the Police and Border Guard Board's website.
  • Information about changes to short term visas can be seen in the link below.

 

Schools and universities

  • Kindergartens are open.
  • Schools, colleges and universities are teaching in class and online lessons.
    Research and development activities are continuing at universities and research institutions.
  • New: Tallinn has moved children in eighth grade and above to distance learning.
  • The PPA has said students may not start their studies within 14 days of arrival if they come from a third country or one with a high infection rate. They can start their studies only on day 15 after a negative COVID-19 test.

Public spaces

  • From June 19, the 2+2 restriction is a recommendation and not a rule.
  • Public events: 750 spectators can attend indoor events and 2,000 at outdoor events from July 15. But capacity must be limited to 50 percent at indoor events 
  • Public meetings can be held from May 18.
  • Playgrounds and sports areas, such as outdoor gyms, will be reopened from May 2 but must be disinfected every four hours.
  • Tallinn will reopen playgrounds from May 11.
  • Tallinn will reopen public beaches on June 1.
  • RMK is asking hikers to avoid popular trails to limit the spread of the virus.
The PPA demonstrate the 2+2 rule in force during the emergency situation. Source: PPA

 Shopping centers, restaurants and bars

  • New: Bars in Harju and Ida-Viru counties cannot sell alcohol after 11 p.m. due to outbreak sof coronavirus which spread in the city's bars.
  • Restriction change: Malls and their shops and restaurants are open from May 11.
  • Restriction change: From June 1, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open and to sell alcohol after 10 p.m.
  • Nightclubs reopened on July 1.

Leisure facilities and culture

  • Public events: 750 spectators can attend indoor events and 2,000 at outdoor events from July 15. But capacity must be limited to 50 percent at indoor events 
  • Casinos can reopen in June as long as they follow 2+2 and have an occupancy of 50 percent or less.
  • Gyms, spas and swimming pools will reopen on May 18.
  • From May 18 sports events will be allowed to take place with a maximum of 100 participants.
  • Tallinn will reopen libraries, which have been running limited services, on May 18.
  • Religious services, which were suspended, will start again on May 10.
  • From May 2 open-air museums and outdoor exhibits will reopen with a maximum of 10 visitors. They must be disinfected every four hours.
  • Tallinn will reopen museums from May 19, and the zoo and botanical gardens outdoor areas from May 18. From June 1, the indoor spaces will be opened.
  • Driving tests can be held again from May 7.
  • Nightclubs, adult entertainment clubs and hookah lounges can reopen from July 1 but must not be over 50 percent occupancy from August 1.
  • Individual municipalities may extend restrictions beyond the end of the emergency situation if they have an increase in cases.

International travel

  • From November 2, self-isolation will be compulsory for passengers arriving from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia*, Liechtenstein, Lithuania*, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Vatican and the United Kingdom.
  • From October 22, it is possible to travel to Estonia from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay. Starting from November 2, anyone arriving from Uruguay must self-isolate.
  • If a person transits through a country with a high infection rate he or she must self-isolate.
  • Anyone coming from a country with an infection rate of 1.1x Estonia's rate per 100,000 must self-isolate for 10 days.
  • From September 14, Latvians, Lithuanians and Finns can travel to Estonia without quarantine as long as the coronavirus infection rate is 25 per 100,000 or below. For other countries, the limit is still 16 per 100,000.
  • From September 1, a rapid test and follow up test for coronavirus can be taken instead of a two week quarantine period when returning from a country with an infection rate of 17 or more. This only applies to people going to or traveling for work.
  • Until then, people returning from most third countries must self-quarantine for 10 days and not leave home during that period. Information about quarantine requirements can be found here and below.
  • If you're traveling to or visiting Estonia, you can also download "HOIA" Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app.

What does quarantine really mean?

The Police and Border Guard Board's (PPA) definition of what a 10-day quarantine period is and what the rules are, is published below:

"It means that a person may not leave his or her place of residence within 14 days, except on the instructions of a healthcare professional or a police officer, or for unavoidable reasons.

"For instance, you may leave home if your life is in danger or you need medical attention, to renew your food supplies, purchase essentials or medicines. In all these cases, you must avoid contact with other people.

"Therefore, you must not go to work or too crowded hiking trails. However, you can, for instance, go running or cycling if you do so without coming into contact with others."

For more information visit the Police and Border Guard Board's website.

Domestic travel

  • Tallinn public transport is running on its usual schedule.
  • Elron trains are running as usual.
  • Intercity buses are also running on a reduced schedule.

Hospitals

  • Visiting patients has been restricted at the North Estonia Medical Center, Kuressaare and Rakvere hospitals.
  • Birthing partners are allowed in some hospitals. See a list of rules and hospitals here.
  • Visiting patients in hospital is allowed from June 1.
  • Scheduled treatments have restarted.

Care homes

  • From April 4, care home residents are not allowed to leave the premises until the emergency situation has ended.
  • It is possible to visit relatives in care or nursing homes from June 1.

Prisons

  • Prison visits can be held from May 18.

Additional e-services

Social distancing "Stay Healthy!" sign on Tallinn's Reidi Road. Source: Aron Urb/ Stenbock House

Coronavirus data

The first and second graphs show the total amount of new cases and new cases added each day. If you hover over the line the number of cases will show for each day. The third chart shows the estimated number of active cases in Estonia.

Cases


The graphs below show new cases for six counties by day. Harju and Saare counties are on the same graph as they have a similar number of cases - over 500 each. Ida-Viru County was added to the graph after an increase in cases in September.

Tartu, Pärnu and Võru counties have been shown separately as they each have over 100 cases. Other counties have not been shown as they only have a handful of cases each.

You can add or take away counties from the graphs by clicking the coloured dots below.

Deaths

The last coronavirus related death was on October 22.

Below you can see data for deaths related to coronavirus by age group, sex and county.

More data from the Health Board can be viewed at Koroonakaart here.

  • Graphs are updated with data released by the Health Board/ Koroonakaart each day at approximately 11 a.m.
  • An article summarizing the past week's data and import information can be found in the sidebar on the righthand side of the "coronavirus" page.

Testing information

  • Information about who can be tested and how to get tested can be found here. You can also call the 1247 helpline for more information.
  • A test can be carried out after a referral from a family doctor after opening a sick note online.
  • A sick note for sick leave can be opened online.
  • Synlab will carry out testing for a fee.
  • Do not visit the emergency room as it could spread the disease to people who are already ill.
  • Coronavirus symptoms are similar to flu symptoms, for example, a fever or cough.

Emergency contact numbers:

  • On March 16, a crisis phone line launched to answer coronavirus-related questions and for psychological first aid. The free number to call is 1247.
  • The family doctor helpline can be called on 1220 and is the first point of contact. It is staffed by Estonian, Russian and English speakers.
  • Estonian citizens and residents who need travel assistance can contact the consular assistance emergency helpline: +372 53 01 9999 (24 h).
  • In an emergency, or if your health suddenly deteriorates, call the emergency services on 112.
  • The Health Board's advice in English is here.
  • Confido walk-in clinics have a new paid health consultation line 1500, with the service available in English. Their walk-in clinics are closed.
A social distancing sign outside Tartu railway station which translates as "I'll love you from afar". Source: Helen Wright / ERR

How to protect yourself: Advice from the Health Board

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap and in public places use alcohol-based hand disinfectant. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue immediately after use and then clean your hands.
  • Avoid contact (keeping a distance of at least 1 meter) with people with external symptoms of illness, such as cough or sneezing.
  • In public places, your hands are exposed to many objects and surfaces that may have recently been contaminated by viruses.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical help early.
  • Tell your healthcare professional if you have recently visited a risk area, where COVID-19 has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone who has visited China and has symptoms of respiratory illness 
  • Do not wear a mask unless you are already sick.
  • Use hand sanitizer where it has been provided, such as supermarkets and shopping centers.
  • The latest information from the Health Board can be viewed here.

Travel advice

The Health Board and Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not recommend traveling abroad at the current time.

If you have returned from abroad and are experienced fever, cough or breathing difficulties within 14 days of your travel, do the following:

  • First, contact your family physician by phone or ask for advice by calling the family physician advisory line 1220 or call ambulance 112.
  • Inform your doctor and ambulance about your recent travel.
  • Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people.
  • When you arrive at a health care facility, you may be given a mask. This is to protect healthcare professionals and other people.

If you have been in an area with ongoing coronavirus transmission and you do not have any symptoms, do the following:

  • Stay at home for 14 days and monitor your health.
  • Avoid public transport and crowded places where possible.
  • Use the help of friends, family, or a food courier to replenish your food supplies as needed.

If you are traveling in an area with ongoing coronavirus transmission, follow these suggestions:

  • Always follow hand hygiene practices including the use of disinfectant.

Avoid:

  • Close contact with people with respiratory disease symptoms.
  • Markets that sell live or dead animals.
  • Close contact with animals (including wild, domestic and farm animals) and their faeces.
  • Do not consume raw or undercooked meat or unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
  • Do not consume unwashed fruits and vegetables.
A sign at the Port of Tallinn reading: "Everything is the same as before. Only with a little more space." Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is recommending people avoid traveling.
  • Travel agents and airlines should also be contacted in the case of booked trips or for those already in affected areas.
  • The Foreign Ministry is asking people who remaining in the risk area to follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • The latest information from the ministry can be found here.
  • Travelers from Estonia are being asked to register their trip here.

Advice from the Ministry of Education

  • All schools in Estonia were closed from Monday, March 16. Pupils will study at home via e-learning.
  • Entrance exams for Tallinn schools have been postponed, and state exams in maths and the Estonian language were made optional for the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The 2020-2021 academic year is scheduled to start on September 1 as usual, and schools will be back to teaching face-to-face in class.
  • The full Ministry of Education and Research guidelines for teachers, parents and students can be viewed here.

Events canceled or postponed in Estonia

On March 11, the Health Board recommended upcoming international events in Estonia be canceled or postponed until the second half of the year.

ERR News will update the list of postponements and cancellations as they are announced, but since large gatherings have been called off it is safer to assume an event will not be happening.

  • Tallinn Music Week: Scheduled to start March 29, has now been put back to August 26-30.
  • Latitude59: The startup and tech conference has been postponed to August 27-28. Tickets purchased for Latitude59 prior to the date change are still valid.
  • Jazzkaar 2020: Postponed until April 17 with organizers advising international guests not to attend. The situation will be reassessed on March 31.
  • Food bank Toidupank's spring food drive at supermarkets across the country is postponed from April 3-4, to May 8-9.
  • The annual HeadRead literary festival has been put off from May to September.
  • The Three Seas Summit has been postponed to October.
  • The World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, which was scheduled to take place in June in Tartu, has also been postponed until 2021.
  • The I-Land music festival scheduled July was canceled due to fears of large numbers of people attending.

General coronavirus information

  • The virus is transmitted from person to person through droplet spread.
  • The incubation period of the virus is about 2-14 days, with an average of 5 days.
  • It is not yet known exactly how effectively the virus spreads and how long the contagious period lasts.
  • Transmission of the disease from asymptomatic carriers has been observed on a case-by-case basis.
  • The new coronary virus SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of animal origin.
  • The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus originated in the city of Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019.
  • COVID-19 is genetically similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) and is also referred to by the Health Board as SARS-CoV-2.

Where to find the latest news:

  • The government's crisis information in English is here.
  • The latest news from the City of Tallinn is here.
  • News from Tartu can be viewed here.
  • The Estonian government's latest news in English is here.
  • WHO's situation report dashboard is here.
  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's version is here.
  • The Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) dashboard at Johns Hopkins University is here.
  • The latest information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be found here.
  • The Health Board's English information is here.
  • The Health Board's latest coronavirus data for Estonia is displayed here.

Emergency situation vs. state of emergency 

*Under Estonian law, a state of emergency ("erakorraline seisukord") is only declared in case of a threat to the constitutional order of Estonia and it is not possible to eliminate a threat without the implementation of the measures provided for in the State of Emergency Act. Under the Emergency Act, the Estonian government may declare an emergency situation ("eriolukord") for the resolving of an emergency caused by a natural disaster, catastrophe or spread of a communicable disease.

Advice issued by the government during the emergency situation. Source: kriis.ee/en

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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste

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