Minister: Estonia to exit virus restrictions step by step

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

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab said the restrictions have been established until April 11 and they will be lifted step by step in the future. The infection rate has stabilized but has not yet started to fall.

Aab (Center), who is currently also performing the duties of prime minister, said at a government press conference on Thursday that restrictions have reduced contacts and the infection rate among schoolchildren has decreased.

Thanks to vaccination, infection has also decreased among people over the age of 80, and infection in care homes has also decreased.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the new restrictions are having an impact but need to stay in place for a few more weeks.

"We have seen some stabilization in the rate of increase, but unfortunately the stabilization is not a decline. And that is not what we want to see," Kiik said.

He said hospitals are still at a crisis point and medical staff are facing an extremely high workload.

"Currently, the crisis is at its peak, I very much hope that this peak will start to fall at some point, but we must also be prepared for a worse scenario," he said. "Currently, the government hopes that the established restrictions will be enough to reduce the COVID-19 infection. If we see that this is not enough, we must be ready to take the next step."

Kiik said that during the whole pandemic, more than 5,000 people have needed hospital treatment in Estonia.

Aab said that the restrictions have been imposed until April 11 will be relaxed gradually when the time is right.

"I do not think we will come out [of the restrictions] in one go," he said, citing the experience of other countries as well as Estonia last spring.

Kiik: Vaccination of strategic frontline to begin next week

Kiik said that vaccination of the "strategic frontline" will begin next week. He added that this also includes members of the government and the Riigikogu.

The minister said those among the strategic frontline will mostly be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Aab added that the vaccination will be organized by the Government Office and will be voluntary. He said he will also be vaccinated next week

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Editor: Helen Wright

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