Kallas: Infection rates in Estonia worsening

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said infection rates in Estonia are deteriorating and are not moving in the direction the government would like. The Health Board has said infections are rising among school children.

Answering questions from MPs on Wednesday, Kallas stated that infection rates "are getting worse". She pointed out that 798 new positive tests were registered in 24 hours and there are 449 patients in hospital. "All the figures indeed show that the situation is not good at all," Kallas said.

She said surveys show that people's sense of danger has decreased. "If people do not feel that the risk is high, then people will not behave responsibly," she said, adding that researchers also say self-discipline is the best way to control the virus.

Kallas said that the experience of other countries shows that when full restrictions are imposed, the indicators fall, but after the restrictions end, the indicators start to rise again because people do not behave responsibly.

"In order for us to be in control of the numbers, people themselves need to do more to follow the simple recommendations that have been made," Kallas said.

According to her, the government first wants to get the infection rate to the 500 level. "But we are not moving in the direction of getting it to 500," Kallas said.

Härma: Incidence of coronavirus rising among schoolchildren

Doctors were the first to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Tallinn on December 27. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Deputy director general of the Health Board, Mari-Anne Härma, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the incidence of coronavirus is rising among schoolchildren.

Harma said the number of outbreaks related to schools has doubled from 15 to 27. "The biggest jump in infections was among 10-19-year-olds. There was a jump of 40 percent," she said.

She added that a third of cases still remain unknown, but a third of infections occur within the family circle. "The infections of the last week are not related to large outbreaks, but have been separate cases," she said.

Harma noted that new infections occur mainly in workplaces, care institutions and schools.

"Half of children become infected at home and a quarter at school. Among adults, the place of infection is largely unknown. Others catch the virus at work and at home. In the elderly, most infections occur in care facilities or hospitals," she said.

Harma reminded people not to plan holidays abroad during the coming school holidays and not to gather on the sledding hill in large groups on Shrove Tuesday (February 16).

At the same time, a stable situation in terms of infection continues in Harju County, Ida-Viru County and Tartu County, while elsewhere the growth has been rapid.

According to Harma, many people have been vaccinated in care institutions so far, but it is not yet known whether the vaccination has affected the spread of the disease and there has been a decrease in the number of infections among healthcare professionals after vaccination.

"We now know that there have been cases among those who have been vaccinated with a single dose. It is not yet known whether the vaccine means a milder course of the illness," she said.

"16 people have been infected after the second dose, but this has been during the possible infection period. The effectiveness of the vaccine is assessed by it preventing serious cases. AstraZeneca is as effective as other vaccines in that it prevents serious illness and therefore hospitalization and death," Harma said.

Coronavirus situation stabilizing in counties with stricter restrictions

Adviser to the Epidemic Control Department at the Health Board Irina Dontšenko. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Irina Dontšenko adviser at the epidemic control department at the Health Board, said at a press briefing of the Tallinn city government on Wednesday that with regard to the coronavirus, the situation has begun to stabilize foremost in those counties where stricter restrictions have previously been applied.

In the last week, 3,762 new cases of coronavirus were registered, which, according to Dontšenko, means that Estonia is moving more in the direction of stabilization in terms of infections. "If you look at the numbers, there is still a nationwide spread of the virus in Estonia and the intensity of the disease is very high," she added.

According to her, the situation has stabilized rather in those counties where stricter restrictions have previously been imposed, that is in Harju County and Ida-Viru County. The situation is also stabilizing in Pärnu County, Tartu County and Voru County.

The infection has been on the rise for the last five weeks in Jõgeva County and Rapla County, and infection is also increasing in Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Jarva County and Viljandi County.

At the same time, the infection has started to increase among young people, which, according to Dontšenko, suggests that children went to school, got together and the virus began to spread. "An increase in infections between the ages of 30 and 39 can also be seen, which means that the parents of infected children have become ill," Dontsenko added.

She said as many as 33.5 percent of those infected do not know exactly where they got the virus. "This continues to prove that we have an extensive spread of infection and the virus could be caught from anywhere," Dontsenko said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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