Danger of new variants entering Estonia increases during school holidays

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Empty classroom. (photo is illustrative) Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

In relation to the school holiday starting in general-education schools this week, there is a danger of a rise in the number of infected people and bringing new virus variants to the country. Since following the last school holidays, the number of infected people has seen an increase, traveling should be avoided, or those who do should definitely get tested after returning home.

"Quite often, the more dangerous variants are brought in from abroad. Here we will definitely remind people to make health-conscious choices, so we wouldn't have to extend the restrictions longer than necessary because of choices made during the holiday," Minister of Health and Labor, Tanel Kiik (Center), said.

The so-called South African variant is currently under control in Estonia, it is reported, but because existing vaccines are less effective on this and other variants, the guard should not be let down.

ETV weekly news show "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal" asked the public what their plans for the holiday are.

Quite a lot of people say they are planning to spend the holiday at home. One woman living in Haapsalu is expecting her two grandchildren to come and visit her for a week.

Other respondents, living in Kohtla-Järve, said they are not making any plans for the holiday. "We are going to stay at home. [Nearby] Lake Peipsi is the maximum plan," a local resident said.

Another person living in Tartu said that he had postponed a planned trip to London, and his time will be spent in Estonia.

"There are certain signs, doubts, studies that show that the variant is a little stronger against the immune system. The vaccine will definitely help against that variant as well, but not as effectively as for the regular type," University of Tartu molecular virology professor, Aare Abroi, said.

Abroi recommends that those who have suffered from the virus still get at least one dose of vaccine.

"The vaccine boosts the number of antibodies by 10 times, which is very significant. Whereas without the vaccine, the protection against the new variants is a little doubtful, when the virus has been suffered through and the vaccine dose has been received, things are much safer," Abroi went on.

The U.K. and Germany have started testing cross-vaccines. However, in Abroi's opinion, safety studies in this regard are not sufficient.

Health minister Tanel Kiik said that before changing any patterns, the state will wait for the results of these two countries' experiences.

By autumn, it is planned that 70 percent of the Estonian population should be vaccinated with two doses, while Kiik said that for 2020 at least, nobody will have to start with the second vaccination course (i.e. get vaccinated again, since the coronavirus vaccines on the market at present are not for all-time - ed.).

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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