There are more than 70 people infected with COVID-19 in Ida-Viru County with three active outbreaks currently in that county. Regional committee head Ailar Holzmann, who leads a crisis committee set up Wednesday to cover both Ida- and Lääne-Viru counties, said the situation is not yet critical, but it is high time for actions to alleviate further spread.
The outbreak was traced to a bar known as Jõhvi Kelder, in the town of the same name, with cases soon appearing among the workforce at the nearby Estonia and VKG oil shale mines.
Five infected employees in Jõhvi schools have led to the start of the academic year being pushed back to September 7, rather than the traditional first of the month. On Thursday, the regional committee will convene for the first time to help the Health Board (Terviseamet) alleviate further spread of the coronavirus in the two northeasternmost counties of Estonia.
Ailar Holzmann told ETV's news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday: "The people of Virumaa acted reasonably during the emergency situation and I hope the public will heed our calls, listen to the Health Board, so we can certainly control the situation in a way that the spread would not increase."
Holzmann said the committee convening does not mean the situation is serious yet. "But we are seeing the number of infections increasing and it is better to be safe than sorry," he acknowledged.
He said the committee does not have plans to restrict the organization of public events yet. "I would not want to be the person to say that all events should be canceled. Events are reasonable if they are planned correctly and they are checked. Then we will be fine. In actuality, we are seeing that these uncontrolled events and bars - indoors - the infection rate is higher than outdoors. To event organizers: Direct more attention to awareness, make sure the local municipality government and Health Board is aware.
"Smart and rational behavior will give us the certainty of having a much lower risk of infection. You must always think where you are going and it is always important to stay home if you are feeling ill," Holzmann concluded.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste