Popov: No more unchecked spread of virus in the country

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Arkadi Popov. Source: ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas suggested that the falling number of new COVID-19 cases makes it possible to consider lifting restrictions from April 26 or start of May. Head of the West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH) Arkadi Popov said that the Health Board is restoring control over outbreaks.

Beautiful spring weather has come with optimism in hospitals that the worst of the crisis might be behind us. More patients than previously were discharged over the weekend, and while hospitals remain ready for this trend being reversed, the situation seems to be improving, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Arkadi Popov said that hospitals are making preparations for turning Covid beds back into beds of regular wards.

"This process is starting now. We are waiting for orders from the Health Board and to be able to return to normal treatment volume in full, even thought that will take a little longer," he said.

The government had a long day on Saturday as it wishes to finish next year's state budget strategy by the end of April. Officials need to time to write up the document once deliberations have been concluded. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that the falling case rate suggests that restrictions are working.

"Allow me to recall that where we are today seems modest compared to where we've been [in terms of rate of infection], while the plateau is still too high today if we look at what will happen upon lifting all restrictions. That said, if we can maintain this trend, we have reason to believe that things will stay open once they are opened," Kallas said.

The question, therefore, is whether restrictions can be relaxed from April 26 or start of May. Risks are still reflected in the number of severe cases and deaths. Popov suggested that ability to monitor spread is key.

"One criterion that has begun to manifest is that Health Board epidemiologists can once again monitor close contacts, which capacity we did not have for a time because of epidemic spread of the virus. Epidemiologists can keep tabs on people again, albeit with some difficulty. This means that we can control the epidemic and that it is no longer unchecked, Popov said.

Authorities lost the ability to keep count of Covid-positive people in late February.

The Health Board said on Saturday that it should become clear next week when the spread of the virus can be fully monitored again.

The PM explained that initiatives of concerned parties, such as restaurants, for operating outdoors are also important when it comes to lifting of restrictions.

"Self-regulation mechanisms not mandated by the state that restaurants could observe to keep the virus from spreading. We would like to progress gradually, similarly to how restrictions were introduced," Kallas said.

The subject matter of schools and travelling promise to be major touchstones. The situation differs from one region to the next and movement of people returning from abroad cannot be limited.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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