Lutsar: Tallinn's new coronavirus measures are disproportionate

Professor Irja Lutsar on Tuesday's
Professor Irja Lutsar on Tuesday's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Virology Professor Irja Lutsar believes the coronavirus measures Tallinn City Government have implemented are disproportionate - instead of reintroducing distance learning, restrictions on private parties should have been tightened.

On Wednesday, it was announced Tallinn would send students in the eighth grade and above home to start distance learning. The infection rate in the capital has crept up in recent weeks and is 31.5 per 100,000 as a two-week average, the Health Board said. Estonia's countrywide average is 20.62.

Lutsar, who is head of the government's scientific advisory council, told ERR: "It was a very big surprise to me. In my personal opinion, this is not the right measure. We should use measures where the infection is spreading and shut them down."

She pointed out that the new outbreaks in Tallinn have occurred at private parties, which is why the city should have focused its attention there instead.

"When the disease spread in nightclubs in Tartu, their closure was an effective measure. In Tallinn, the virus has not spread in nightclubs, but in private parties. The first measure by the city should have been to regulate private parties. My understanding is that work comes before play. But for now, it looks like we're closing down to have more time for fun in the evening."

Lutsar added that, on the whole, the current coronavirus indicators in Estonia and Tallinn are low and the capital's measures are disproportionate.

"Yes, the numbers in Tallinn are higher than they were in the spring, but there was another situation in the spring. Looking back, some things were closed too early in the spring. We have to be very rational and only make restrictions that we can live with for three or four years," she said.

Speaking about the mayor's call to wear masks, Lutsar said that masks should be worn by those who have been assigned isolation, whose loved ones are carrying the virus and, if possible, on public transport.

Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) introduced the measures on Wednesday saying his was worried about the situation in Tallinn and taking preventative measures now is the right thing to do, instead of waiting for things to get worse.

In spring, the emergency situation was introduced when the per 100,000 rate was 4.5, he said.  

What is the coronavirus situation like in Tallinn now?

Eleven new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in Tallinn in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in Harju County to 1,003. This is the total number of cases recorded in the county since February.

As Irja Lutsar said above, the coronavirus is mainly being spread at parties. Compared with the outbreak in the spring, younger people are being infected at a higher rate than before and fewer people are being hospitalized.

The Health Board's northern regional department - which includes Tallinn - is currently monitoring six active outbreaks:

An outbreak at Nõmme Kalju football club involves 15 infection cases.

The 'Viimsepäeva katedraal' club event which took place on 21 August in Ülemister involves 10 people.

A party at Gourmet Coffee has 11 cases.

An outreak at a music event has six cases.

A sauna party has seven cases.

A further eight cases are connected to an outbreak that involved catching the virus in the workplace. 

The Health Board's northern regional department is monitoring 885 people in connection with the spread of coronavirus, of whom 165 have fallen ill. 

Tallinn's infection rate per 100,000 people as a two-week average is 31.5.

To read more about how Harju and Estonia's coronavirus infection rate has changed in recent weeks, read ERR News' weekly round-up.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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