Hospital chief doctor: Lockdown inevitable in Estonia

Dr. Peep Talving of PERH on Tuesday's
Dr. Peep Talving of PERH on Tuesday's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Lockdown in Estonia is inevitable, at least to an extent, in the light of soaring coronavirus numbers, the chief doctor at a Tallinn hospital says.

Those in the front line of the battle against COVID-19 are currently very concerned, Dr. Peep Talving of the North Estonia Regional Hospital (PERH) told ETV politics discussion show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday night.

He said: "We have to think very hard about measures. There is no best option. There will need to be some lockdown of the country at some point, and I am aware that people will suffer and activities will be curtailed, but I think we have no other choice."

The tone of the lockdown would also take on rather more of a martial, than a democratic character, he added.

"We would do it in this this way - we have decided to take this course of action, and this has to be done. There are a lot of decisions here that are tough, but I don't think we will get very far with recommendations alone. People just don't take that seriously," he went on.

The government issued an emergency situation in mid-March, which ran to mid-May, where regulations were carried out by government order rather than via legislative process. Talving said that a return to an emergency situation would be needed.

"To carry this out, we have politicians who know the twists and turns of solving the problem so that public health (would be protected) and the state could be at work," he said.

The coronavirus is still spreading epidemiologically, he added, with the number of hospitalizations rising around 10 per day being particularly worrying.

Planned treatment – something which was halted during the spring wave – will continue at PERH for the meantime, but if the situation worsens, it will have to be phased out in stages, for instance in surgery activities, he said.

The coronavirus is an insidious illness, whose spread is very difficult to limit, Talving went on.

He said: "The first Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) (first identified in 2003 and 2012 respectively – ed.) were contagious if an individual exhibited symptoms of cough, or had a fever. This variety of the coronavirus is most contagious 24 to 48 hours before symptoms appear. Its construction is like a biological weapon: It's insidious, you can't see it. This is a major problem, and is why it spreads so widely."

Talving said that once vaccines start arriving in Estonia – which, following a government agreement to procure the goods from [German biotech companies] Pfizer/BioNTech should start happening in the first quarter of next year – the goal should be to inoculate 80 percent of target groups.

These groups would be frontline workers such as medical professionals and the police, first off.

"Children will certainly not the first [to be vaccinated] because they suffer only lightly with the virus. To be honest, this vaccine is not even designated for children," he added.

Reaching an 80 percent figure worldwide would take years, he added.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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