Study: Relaxation of coronavirus restrictions was justified

A social distancing sign in Tartu.
A social distancing sign in Tartu. Source: ERR/ Helen Wright

The results of the third wave of the University of Tartu's coronavirus monitoring study confirmed the continued relaxation of the restrictions introduced to mitigate the spread of virus have been justified.

The third wave of surveillance surveys was conducted from May 22 to May 31 to assess whether the easing of movement restrictions on shopping malls and other public places has had an impact on the spread of the virus in Estonia.

The study's main conclusion is that there is no widespread infection in society.

A total of 3,329 adult Estonian residents were interviewed for the study and 1,908 people were tested on the basis of a random sample. The test identified two coronavirus-positive patients, one of whom had suffered from the disease and was no longer at risk of infection.

The researchers' calculations suggest the weighted share of virus-positive among the adult population of Estonia is 0.05 percent (with a 95% confidence limit) and the weighted share of potentially infectious is 0.02 percent (with a 95% confidence limit).

Professor Ruth Kalda of the University of Tartu said: "The end of the state of emergency and the easing of restrictions have not led to an increase in the spread of the coronavirus, which shows that a gradual and controlled easing of restrictions is justified."

She continued: "Although the prevalence of coronavirus is currently low and therefore there may not be a direct need to study it, it is important to monitor how the wider abolition of restrictions and the opening of borders will affect the spread of the infection in Estonia. Knowledge provides better security and confidence for next steps."

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said the work the University of Tartu's scientists was appreciated and had given the government confidence to ease the restrictions.

He said: "The spread of the virus is under control in Estonia and we will continue to return to normal life and ease restrictions and prepare for a new possible outbreak."

Symptoms last an average of 15.7 days

A total of 9,342 adult residents have been interviewed for the three waves of the survey and 6,865 people have been randomly tested. 

Testing has recorded 14 positive cases, eight of whom had been diagnosed with COVID-19 before the study, and seven of whom were diagnosed with the disease. 

The three studies show the average duration of coronavirus symptoms is 15.7 days.

According to the survey, people changed their behavior after being infected. The most common change was that people started washing their hands more, avoided contact with the elderly and wore a mask.

The next, fourth wave of the study will be conducted from June 15-22. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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