Professor Ruth Kalda said the effect of the current restrictions will be seen in the middle of April and students may have the chance to return to contact learning this school year. Also, it can now be said the effect of the coronavirus vaccine lasts for a year.
Speaking about the coronavirus infection rate, Kalda said the stricter rules have had an effect. .
She told ERR: "If these restrictions imposed from March 1 have an effect, it should be quietly revealed right now. I imagine that in the second half of April or from the second week onwards, the effect of the record rate could be completely over."
However, hospitals will continue to have a high number of patients during the coming weeks
Kalda said the results from the wastewater monitoring study shows the situation in stabilizing, but there is still a high rate of infection in Ida-Viru, Harju, Lääne and Tartu counties. In the case of Tartu, this could be because the hospital treats patients from across the country.
While the number of positives tests have fallen, the share of tests is still around 20 percent each day. "It's early to say, but there are some signs of the infection rate decreasing," Kalda said.
Education ministry looking for solution for schools
Kalda said if the number of infected people continues to fall then students may be able to return to the classroom in April or May. The government's scientific advisory council, which Kalda is a member of, has recommended inclass learning commence when the infection rate - R - drops to between 0.85 and 0.88. It is currently 0.9.
"Discussions are also taking place about how to bring children back to school as safely as possible, [and about] what precautions could be taken by schools. The Ministry of Education has also approached the University of Tartu to help find ways to do this based on monitoring. The possibility of using rapid tests is also being considered, and it is now being discussed how they could be applied to quickly identify those who could be at risk of infection," Kalda said.
For schools to continue as normal in the autumn, it is necessary to vaccinate as many adults as possible.
Vaccines offer 12 months protection
It is now thought that the vaccines give immunity for 12 months rather than only six.
"Today we can say that the protection is for a year because it's been a year since the clinical study of the vaccines. It will be found out in time whether the protection will be longer," she said.
"The hope is that the protection lasts longer," Kalda said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright