Minister: Government looking at further restrictions for March

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Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Additional ways are being sought to reduce person-to-person contact, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) says, in the wake of a rapid rise in coronavirus rates in Estonia – a spread which Aab said had come as a surprise to the government.

The net was being cast as far as possible in doing this, he added.

Aab told ERR Tuesday that: "All sectors are under consideration; we cannot say that one sector or another sector has been earmarked. We are looking at the bigger picture, and in March, these three or four weeks, we will minimize contacts," the minister said.

"While the forecasts demonstrated that numbers would be growing, my estimation is that this rapid growth came as such a surprise to everyone, including experts and the [government's] scientific advisory council," Aab went on.

The government received an overview of the situation from the scientific council – its coronavirus advisory body in other words – which also highlighted that hospitals were at a critical level. 

"This is not just a question of bed spaces, but also of workload and resources. A bed alone does not help - staff are also needed to attend this bed," he went on.

Estonia has been posting over a thousand new coronavirus cases a day over the past few days, compared with Finland, with over four times the population, which has been recording figures in the hundreds.

Aab said the current R rate of infection is close to 1.25, but must be reduced below 1.0 (in other words the minister said that in order to reduce the rate of viral spread, the rate of viral spread would need to be reduced – ed.).

In terms of possible new measures, Aab mentioned suggestions which its advisory council had suggested last week but which the government had not taken on; spending would be an option to head off greater costs later on, he added.

The alternative might be more severe restrictions on movement, along the lines of what has been employed in other European countries hitherto, Aab added, calling for public responsibility in adhering to existing restrictions in what he called a critical time.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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