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 government declared an emergency situation* (see bottom of page) on Thursday, March 12 which was originally scheduled to last until May 1. The emergency situation ended on Sunday, May 17.
  • The emergency situation (eriolukord) has been replaced by another, less severe situation, usually translated as "emergency" (hädaolukord).
  • As of July 13, a total of 2,014 people have been diagnosed with the disease.
  • As of July 13, 69 people have died after contracting the COVID-19 virus.
  • Currently, 4 people are being treated in hospital and 391 people have been discharged.
  • In total, 112,175 tests have been carried out by the Health Board since January 31.
  • There are estimated to be 27 active cases.
  • Most of the cases are in Harju, Saare, Ida-Viru, Pärnu, Tartu and Võru counties.
  • Information about how to get tested is here.
  • The government has launched an initial €2 billion economic package to support the economy.
  • If you are an entrepreneur and want to offer help to the state visit here.
  • Online data analysis tools have been developed by the University of Tartu and Koroona Kaart.
  • The University of Tartu is inviting people to take part in coronavirus study (link in English), whether or not they have tested positive for the disease.

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

Restrictions and changes implemented during the emergency situation

Restriction changes are also marked below. The latest news from the Estonian government can be viewed here.

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.

 

Public spaces

  • Restriction change: From June 19, the 2+2 restriction is a recommendation and not a rule.
  • Restriction change: Public events: 1,500 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 
  • Restriction change: Public meetings can be held from May 18.
  • Restriction change: Playgrounds and sports areas, such as outdoor gyms, will be reopened from May 2 but must be disinfected every four hours.
  • Restriction change: Tallinn will reopen playgrounds from May 11.
  • Restriction change: 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

  • 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

  • Restriction change: Public events: 1,500 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 
  • Restriction change: Casinos can reopen in June as long as they follow 2+2 and have an occupancy of 50 percent or less.
  • Restriction change: Gyms, spas and swimming pools will reopen on May 18.
  • Restriction change: From May 18 sports events will be allowed to take place with a maximum of 100 participants.
  • Restriction change: Tallinn will reopen libraries, which have been running limited services, on May 18.
  • Restriction change: Religious services, which were suspended, will start again on May 10.
  • Restriction change: From May 2 open-air museums and outdoor exhibits will reopen with a maximum of 10 visitors. They must be disinfected every four hours.
  • Restriction change: 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.
  • Restriction change: Driving tests can be held again from May 7.
  • Restriction change: Nightclubs, adult entertainment clubs and hookah lounges can reopen from July 1.
  • Individual municipalities may extend restrictions beyond the end of the emergency situation if they have an increase in cases.

International travel

  • People returning from most third countries must self-quarantine for 14 days and not leave home during that period. Information about quarantine requirements can be found here.
  • From July 6 citizens/ residents from Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Sweden, Romania, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom must remain in isolation for two weeks. All other passengers EEA/EU countries do not need to quarantine when entering Estonia.
  • Citizens/ residents from Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand
    Tunisia and Uruguay do not need to quarantine upon entry to Estonia. 

Domestic travel

  • Tallinn public transport is running on its usual schedule.
  • Elron trains are running a reduced schedule. Passengers are advised to buy a ticket online before traveling.
  • Intercity buses are also running on a reduced schedule.

Restriction changes for Saaremaa and Muhu

  • Restriction change: From May 8, restrictions have been lifted on travel to Estonia's western islands.

Schools and universities

  • Kindergartens are open.
  • Restriction change: In-class teaching has resumed for groups of 10 students of less from May 15.
  • Schools, colleges and universities are teaching online.
  • Research and development activities will continue at universities and research institutions.

Hospitals

  • Restriction change: Birthing partners are allowed in some hospitals. See a list of rules and hospitals here.
  • Restriction change: Visiting patients in hospital is allowed from June 1.
  • Restriction change: 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.
  • Restriction change: It is possible to visit relatives in care or nursing homes from June 1.

Prisons

  • Restriction change: Prison visits can be held from May 18.

Additional e-services

  • All parents can now register a child's birth online.
  • Sick notes can be opened online.
  • Chatbot Suve can help answer questions.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AlphaGIS created an Estonian language map of European transit options.
  • If you are an entrepreneur and want to offer help to the state visit here (link in Estonian).
The government's new Stay Healthy! campaign is encouraging people to continue to comply with the coronavirus restrictions. Source: Government office.

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.

From March 25 the data collection and reporting methods of the Health Board changed. The entry from March 25 is considered to be two days worth of data.

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.

Tartu, Pärnu, Võru and Ida-Viru counties have been shown separately as they each have between 80 and 160 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.

More data from the Health Board can be viewed here

  • Graphs are updated with data released by the Health Board each day at 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 this page.
  • From March 25 the data collection and reporting methods of the Health Board changed.

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.
  • 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, contracting a fever or cough.

Emergency contact numbers:

  • On March 16, a crisis phoneline 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.
Coronavirus Source: Health Board

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 does not recommend traveling abroad at the current time. There are few options to return to Estonia.

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.
Coronavirus information. Source: Health Board

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 are closed from Monday, March 16. Pupils will study at home via e-learning.
  • Entrance exams for Tallinn schools have been postponed.
  • 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.

  • Regular church services have been halted by the Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches in Estonia, as well as many others. Online services are available in some cases and ETV2 will be carrying televised Sunday services.
  • Following the government's declaration of an emergency situation on Thursday, March 12, all large gatherings (meaning more than 100 attendees) cannot take place, including cultural and sporting events.
  • The Estonian National Opera (Rahvusooper), the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) and concert organizing body Eesti Kontsert have all canceled all their performances and other events through to May 1.
  • Several cinemas have closed their doors, as have some sports bars and other entertainment facilities.
  • 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.
  • All sporting events are cancelled.
  • Alcohol can only be sold until 10 p.m. including at bars, pubs, restaurants and clubs.

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.
  • Estonian World and Postimees also publish news in English about Estonia.
  • 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: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright

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