Health Board not worried about new coronavirus outbreaks in China

Former Health Board chief of emergency medicine Martin Kadai.
Former Health Board chief of emergency medicine Martin Kadai. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While Chinese authorities have responded very seriously to a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Beijing, Estonia's own Health Board believes that the new outbreak does not pose a risk to Europe or Estonia.

Thousands of flights have been canceled and all city schools are closed in response to a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday. Beijing officials have also ordered residents not to leave town. At least 137 new cases of infection have been identified in the city in recent days.

The Health Board, however, is remaining calm in response to the situation in China, and does not see a risk to either Europe or Estonia in the new outbreak.

"The Health Board sees nothing exceptional in events in China right now," Martin Kadai, director of the Health Board's Infectious Disease Monitoring and Epidemic Control Department, told ERR on Wednesday. "It is known that China uses fairly harsh measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. This may be in part due to events in the Wuhan region at the beginning of the year. When it comes to Chinese cities, their population density and high populations must be taken into account, due to which authorities' goal is likely to get the spread of the infection under control as quickly as possible."

According to Kadai, the Health Board continues to monitor the situation worldwide, and what is going on in China should be considered as part of the bigger picture as well.

"The coronavirus is currently spreading in all countries," he said. "While some 250 new cases have been reported in China over the past 14 days, in India, for example, that number is approaching 145,000."

These events aren't expected to pose any risk to Estonia, however, as restrictions still apply along the European Union's external border to the entry of persons from third countries. Estonia also continues to require arrivals from third countries to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days.

When the EU will lift restrictions along its external borders has yet to be agreed upon between member states.

Risk hasn't disappeared

Even within Estonia, however, it must be remembered that similarly to China, the number of cases may at some point start to rise again, Kadai warned.

"There is currently no logical explanation for why the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus should subside on its own," he said. "Thus we need to take into account and be prepared for the fact that the number of cases will at some point begin to increase again both in Europe and in Estonia."

The department director noted that the global number of coronavirus cases remains on the rise.

"Registered cases in Europe have long since seen a downward trend, and rates of illness in general are currently fairly low," he said, adding that based on data from the past 14 days, illness rates are currently higher than the EU average in Sweden, the U.K. and Portugal.

The number of registered cases in the past 14 days have seen a decline in all EU member states except Sweden and Poland.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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