The number of people hospitalized in Estonia has halved since March, according to one expert. At the same time, mortality rates remain at about the same level.
Krista Fisher, statistician and member of the government's coronavirus advisory council, told ERR Friday that around 40 people were being hospitalized per day in Estonia as a result of the virus, compared with around 80 last month.
Fischer said: "Regarding hospital admissions, we are currently seeing a very clear downward trend."
"At the moment, we are also seeing that while earlier almost 80 patients were being hospitalized [due to the virus], that number is now on a downward trend, and is now approaching 40," Fischer told ERR Friday.
Fischer: Easing restrictions may be viable if vaccination pace keeps up
"Things are going in the right direction right now. As of Monday, there was still a slight fear that this downward trend might have halted, but we can now observe that it has continued to decline," she added.
As to whether easing restrictions as summer approaches would reverse this, and/or that rates could be mitigated by ongoing vaccinations, Fischer said that: "Summer time and vaccinations will both help here. The impact of vaccinations should not be underestimated. If it comes to pass that all those who want to be vaccinated in May or June actually do so, this will have a very strong impact."
While coronavirus rates eased last summer, the vaccine had not yet arrived in Estonia, or anywhere else, and rates started to rise rapidly in the fall.
'R' rate will not rise above 1.0 provided close contact levels do not rise more than 30 percent
Krista Fischer noted that the current "R" rate is 0.8, which means that the number of contacts may be permitted to increase without the "R" rate exceeding 1.0, taking into account any relaxation of restrictions.
Fischer put the threshold at about 30 percent of increased contacts (with infected persons), at or beyond which the "R" rate would exceed 1.0 and therefore see a resumption of viral spread.
The coronavirus scientific council – the government's official advisory board, to which Fischer belongs, said Monday that the current restrictions are helping to reduce infection rates and thus hospitalizations, meaning that the expiry date of April 25 on the current regime could remain in place, followed by a gradual easing of the rules.
Fischer: Early May daily new COVID-19 figures may be around 200
Fischer said Friday she thought new daily infections would stand at around 200 people early on next month, which in turn will have a knock-on effect in terms of hospitalizations falling even more.
Current daily rates are in the hundreds; last month they were often well over the 1,000-mark in Estonia. The number of daily reported deaths among those who have contracted COVID-19 remains at around 10, however.
As to what form the easing of restrictions might take, the scientific council says that the part-reopening of schools, along with outdoor activities for school-aged children (the academic year ends in late May -ed.) would be the first move and could, if rates continued to fall, see other lifting of restrictions from May.
Editor: Andrew Whyte