No additional restrictions planned for South Estonia

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A coronavirus social distancing sign in Tartu. Source: Helen Wright / ERR

The government and the Health Board are not planning to introduce new restrictions in South Estonia despite a recent rise in coronavirus cases.

Unitl now, the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 have taken place in Harju and Ida-Viru counties but the virus has recently started to spread in the south of the country, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Wednesday.

Deputy Director General of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma said the infection pattern in South Estonia does not differ from the rest of Estonia.

"We have infections in unknown locations, we have infections in families, workplaces, schools - in that sense, Southern Estonia is no different from other regions. In the same way, there are many infections in care homes," Härma said.

The Health Board does not think additional restrictions are needed in the region similar to those imposed on Harju or Ida-Viru counties.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said: "It can be said that the level of infection in Estonia has harmonized in the sense that while in Harju County, Ida-Viru County the infection rate was very high and it was very low in other counties, now the whole of Estonia is equally high."

Kiik said as the infection rate has fallen in Harju and Ida-Viru counties a relaxation of restrictions is being discussed.

However, Kiik said last week that nationwide restrictions are expected to be introduced which are expected to give people a better understanding of the rules in place and to stop movement between counties.

The government will discuss restrictions today but if no agreement is made they will end automatically on Monday. Kiik said this is unlikely to happen. 

In December, the government introduced restrictions in Harju and Ida-Viru counties which forced restaurants, cafes and entertainment establishments to close and schools to move to distance learning. The restrictions were partially lifted earlier this month but elsewhere in the country, life is essentially back to normal.

Over the Christmas and New Year period, it was observed that more people left Harju County to visit south Estonia and the islands.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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