Kiik: New restrictions may be introduced if coronavirus rate stays high

Mari-Anne Härma and Tanel Kiik.
Mari-Anne Härma and Tanel Kiik. Source: ERR

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik on Wednesday said the coronavirus situation in Estonia is very serious and new restrictions will be established if the current pace does not slow.

"The situation in Estonia is very serious. At the current rate of spread, we have to start adopting stricter restrictions at the government level and reorganizing the work of hospitals. This is the case if the current pace continues. Changing it depends on all of us," Kiik (Center) said at a press conference.

Kiik is recommending people to work remotely if possible and to avoid large parties, including Christmas or New Year parties. "It is right to send a message that major events should be canceled or postponed. You can party when the pandemic is over," Kiik said.

However, he also confirmed the government will not issue an order banning private parties.

Kiik said although the number of 208 new infections on Wednesday is high, the increase in the number of tests is a good sign because it helps to identify carriers early. In total, 2,660 tests were carried out yesterday, significantly more than in recent weeks.

Deputy Director General of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma said the number of people with an unknown source of infection is growing and is approximately 25 percent. There is also a constant spread of the virus in Tallinn and Harju County.

"It is important to emphasize that the proportion of people who join the circle of close contacts is decreasing, which means that the proportion of individual cases is increasing. In the same way, the number of cases with an unknown source of infection is increasing," said Härma.

The number of outbreaks is highest in Tallinn and the northern region where there are 19 outbreaks. There are seven outbreaks in the eastern region. They are all mostly related to the workplace, party family units and in two care homes.

Testing has increased and Härma this is expected because people are turning to doctors more and more. She said both the share of positive tests and the hospital admissions are increasing slightly.

Härma said masks should be worn on public transport.

On Wednesday, 208 new cases of coronavirus were announced by the Health Board, which was 7.8 percent of all tests analyzed.

Teachers to be tested in Tallinn and Harju County

The Health Board has been cooperating with schools in Tallinn and Harju County and plans to map teachers who want to be tested. The earlier they are tested, the easier it is to control the spread of the virus.

Adviser of the Epidemic Control Department of the Health Board Irina Dontšenko said while the coronavirus situation is worst in the north of the country, understanding the outbreaks allows the agency to have some control over the situation.

Speaking at a press conference, Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said kindergartens and first grade or primary classes must remain open in every situation. He said it has been extended to older pupils as a preventative measure and will not be abandoned.

"The question is whether and how much to expand distance learning," said Kõlvart, who will meet with the principals of Tallinn schools on Wednesday.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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