Virolgist on major summer events: Very little needed for things to go wrong

Crowd at a music festival. Photo is illustrative.
Crowd at a music festival. Photo is illustrative. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

In an appearance on Raadio 2 program "Hommik!" on Wednesday, virologist Andres Merits said that restrictions in place due to the spread of the coronavirus must be taken seriously, because it is not the virus that spread itself, but rather people that spread the virus. He also stressed that care must be taken in connection with the virus this summer as well.

"It isn't just a matter of measures implemented, but also in their being fulfilled," Merits said.

According to the virologist, what is most important is individual behavior patterns, as the virus doesn't spread itself, but rather it is spread by people.

He noted that all kinds of substitute activities while others are banned, such as grilling outside with friends or gatherings in bogs, are very dangerous. "These are very bad solutions for people and very good solutions for the virus," he commented.

Merits said that it is currently very difficult to predict how the virus will behave over the summer, which is why people must continue to remain careful.

"It is impossible to say anything about this virus, because it has not survived a single summer," he said, adding that while heat or cold or humidity or dryness alone may not affect it much, the virus nonetheless appears to spread less effectively in tropical climates.

Should the virus be gotten under control by summer via other means, however, it will either disappear altogether or decrease significantly, Merits said. "But, once again, summer is not some magic wand here," he continued. "No one knows what will happen this fall and winter; we can only speculate."

As he did not believe that the virus would be eradicated to that degree, he wasn't very enthusiastic about major events planned for this summer. "I believe that for some time at least, we must be very careful when it comes to this virus, even if it is eradicated here, because experience shows how little is needed for something to go seriously wrong," he said.

Even if events are organized with good intentions and following safety measures, they could still lead to repercussions, Merits continued.

"Every person who tries or organization who plans such an event is taking a pretty big risk of it being canceled or not happening," he warned, saying that at this point, it is best to follow the example set by the recent postponing of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo until next year.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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