Lutsar: 2+2 rule should be reinstated outside

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

The 2+2 rule should be reintroduced outside, as it was during the emergency situation last year, the government's scientific advisory council has recommended.

Speaking to ERR on Thursday, virology professor Irja Lutsar said this was one of the recommendations the council made to the government on Monday.  The full list will be published on Friday.

The rule means people must only move around in groups of two and must keep a two meter distance from others. The rule does not apply to families and has already been reintroduced in public indoor spaces.

ERR also asked if the number of new cases would drop significantly by summer, like last year.

"It depends a lot on what is happening around us. Last year, the infection rate fell all over Europe, Estonia was not the only place where the infection rate fell sharply. To some extent, vaccines, which will be used more and more, will also play a role. We can see already see in the UK that vaccinated people are less likely to need hospital treatment than those not vaccinated," Lutsar said.

The situation in nursing homes is improving

Information given by doctors suggests the situation in care and nursing homes has improved after vaccinations have taken place.

"We don't have proper research on this, but doctors in hospitals say we no longer have large outbreaks in nursing homes, which were still very common in December," Lutsar said.

"Currently, these patients are coming [to hospital] from [their] homes and patients from home are better off than patients from a nursing home. In this sense, it can already be seen that vaccination in nursing homes has had an effect. And among hospital staff, the infection rate has dropped significantly," she added.

Circumstances around rescue worker's death need to be clarified

Speaking about the rescue worker who died 10 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, Lutsar said all the facts still need to be clarified.

"I have also spoken to the agency [of medicines] today and those who are working on this. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been used all over the world. I believe that the agency has certainly already informed the European Medicines Agency. But first, we need to understand what the cause was," she said.

"Things like this have happened before, for example, there was one death in England with the HPV vaccine, but it turned out the cause was an undiagnosed medical condition. I don't want to say that there is a similar case here, because I have as much information as others who have read it in the newspaper."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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