Kiik: The coming weeks will show whether strict restrictions are necessary

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik with acting Health Board chief Mari-Anne Härma.
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik with acting Health Board chief Mari-Anne Härma. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

On Wednesday, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) announced that the coming weeks will be decisive in Estonia's possible re-establishment of restrictions in response to recent outbreaks in Tartu.

Mari-Anne Härma, acting director of the Health Board, added that while the infection rate in Estonia is currently high, it is a result of specific outbreaks in Tartu which are limited and the Health Board is aware of the potential spread.

Härma said that testing capacity is increased and the rate of positive tests is still 1.3 percent, which is relatively low.

She added that knowledge of the source of infection is critical. There are outbreaks in Tartu and one will come in Ida-Viru County. The Health Board is dealing with the outbreaks and Härma emphasized that risk for national spread remains low.

Of the cases diagnosed recently, Ukraine and Belarus remain the most prominent countries where the virus is brought into Estonia from. Härma noted that the infection rates are increasing worldwide.

She added that there are no remarkable changes to note in positive test rates which would imply that the upward trend is due to outbreaks.

There is talk of excess mortality in Belgium and Portugal, but according to the acting director of the Health Board, that may not be a result of COVID-19, but instead a recent heat wave.

Härma called on the young people of Estonia to remain home when ill, to avoid crowded places and to maintain distancing when outside.

Social minister Tanel Kiik agreed that the epidemiological situation has worsened and recommended people avoid crowded areas. Kiik pleaded young people not to visit clubs and bars and instead spend time outside, in fresh air. He emphasized that the first wave of the virus has not yet concluded and the main principles should not be forgotten.

He turned to the Estonian people with a call for reasonableness and to stop talking as if the virus has passed. "As stated by Justice chancellor Ülle Madise, don't fear the penalty, fear the virus."

Speaking on the upcoming WRC event in Estonia, Kiik noted that public health is of the utmost importance. He added that rally organizers have been in contact with the Health Board and the government will discuss the topic on Thursday.

Kiik emphasized that responsibility is important and if everyone acted irresponsibly like the people in Tartu, Estonians can forget about leading regular lives soon. He added that possible restrictions are an option and the government will discuss possibilities on Thursday, August 6.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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