The government will definitely not start lifting anti-coronavirus restrictions in large numbers, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Wednesday. The Health Board has said cases are rising in schools.
Kiik told reporters that the government, which is currently in the process of discussing restrictions, will "definitely not opt to abolish them en masse." He added that several states that have relaxed their restrictions in haste after a decline in the infection rate are now facing yet another increase.
The infection rate in Estonia is currently 0.95, but the figure may rise rapidly if restrictions are relaxed drastically.
"I don't think there will be a radical U-turn in any direction," Kiik said, adding that in his assessment, the government is not about to establish country-wide mass closures, either.
"The government will likely opt for harmonizing [restrictions]," he concluded.
Currently, additional restrictions are in place in Harju and Ida-Viru counties. It was initially thought they could be lifted on February 1, but this now seems unlikely.
Mayor of Tallinn would not rush relaxing restrictions
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said on Wednesday that in the current situation he would not rush to ease the coronavirus related restrictions in the capital city.
Kõlvart told a news briefing that it's rather the substance of the restrictions that should be talked about.
"Whether a restaurant works until 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. has not as much impact as what these institutions are doing where there are more contacts," the mayor said.
He said that it is not thinkable in the current situation to permit mass events indoors.
"At the moment there's hope that the situation will stabilize, but for now this remains just hope and the situation continues to be difficult," Kõlvart said.
"My approach is known to be that it's rather better to wait for some more time than to have to implement stricter restrictions still later," Kõlvart added.
Health Board: Number of outbreaks in schools increasing
The number of outbreaks of the coronavirus is increasing in schools, Irina Dontšenko, adviser at the epidemic control department of the Estonian Health Board, said at the Tallinn city government's press conference on Wednesday.
Dontšenko said the rate of infection remains very high across the country and the virus is spreading extensively.
"We definitely cannot say that our situation has improved," she said, adding that certain stabilization has now only been achieved at a very high infection rate.
Dontšenko said the virus has been spreading among young and working age people at an increasing rate over the past few weeks.
"The number of infections is continuously highest within families and at workplaces, also in care homes and children's education establishments," she said, adding that active outbreaks number 101 in Estonia in total with the largest numbers thereof located in Harju and Ida-Viru counties.
"The number of outbreaks at schools is slowly growing, there are currently 15 of them," she noted, adding that teachers coming to work while sick with the coronavirus has been one of the causes of the uptick.
Cases are continuously brought into the country from abroad with those from Finland, Ukraine and Russia remaining most numerous.
"There were also 11 cases from the United Arab Emirates, however," Dontsenko said.
The source of the infection is unknown in around one-third of the cases.
Editor: Helen Wright