Lutsar: Curfew not recommended but current coronavirus rules not working

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Head of the government's COVID-19 scientific council Irja Lutsar. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The head of the government's coronavirus advisory council Professor Irja Lutsar has said stronger restrictions are needed to reduce the rate of coronavirus as Tallinn's hospitals are at breaking point. At the same time, she stopped short of recommending any kind of curfew.

"Softer restrictions have not reduced the spread of the virus. The number of infected people is not as serious, but hospitals are starting to run short of personnel," Lutsar said Tuesday.

Lutsar added that calls for refraining from organizing parties and or gatherings of people ahead of the national independence day holiday on Wednesday had largely fallen on deaf ears, particularly among the young, who are on half-term holiday this week.

"The characteristic of the current viral spread is that it is to be found among young people, who are more mobile than older people, who are more likely to be at home, making it easier to restrict them. But is clear that without limiting the number of contacts between people, the number will not go down," Lutsar said.

Lutsar did not want to specify which restrictions the government is set to discuss on Tuesday, a half-day in Estonia.

"The council will be proposing stricter restrictions, but the exact timescale is and where restrictions may fall is not apparent yet. It is only clear that if we continue like this, the numbers will increase."

The recommendations to the government are to be announced on Friday; it will then be up to the cabinet as to what extent they take on the recommendations and translate them into restrictions.

At the same time, Lutsar identified a quandary which relates to the demographic of the pandemic so far, namely that while the elderly are at-risk, the young have both now had the blame for viral spread laid at their feet, while in some ways have been bearing the brunt of restrictions, primarily due to distance learning and the impact this has on their education.

"There has been a discussion held at [coronavirus] council level which experienced doctors and pediatricians took part in. Pediatricians mentioned that this virus is not a childrens' problem, noting there are even fewer patients in the childrens' hospitals than in previous seasons. In addition, keeping the children on distance learning for a long time has serious consequences," Lutsar went on.

Lutsar said regarding closing malls, restaurants, cinemas-theaters, that the council is not recommending any type of curfew, but that the current restrictions are in any case not working.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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