Scientific council draws up three infection risk scenarios

A traffic light.
A traffic light. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government's advisory scientific council has created three possible risk scenarios for the period of April 26-June 24, which take into account further changes to the "R rate".

The scientific council's scenarios are as follows:

1. Infection rate R begins to increase from the middle of May and reaches over 1. In this scenario, Estonia will stay on orange, i.e. the high risk level, and will reach red in June, i.e. the highest risk level.

2. Infection rate R begins to increase and is over 1 for a short period, but then turns back downward. In this scenario, infections in May and June remain on orange, i.e. high risk level with 200-250 new infections daily.

3. Infection rate R begins to increase slowly in the coming weeks but does not exceed 1. In this scenario, infections will stabilize on orange in May, i.e. high risk level and will reach yellow, i.e. medium risk level, in June.

As of Saturday, May 1, the infection R rate is on an upward trend toward 1, but is currently around 0.9, meaning that one person infects just under one person on average with the coronavirus in Estonia. The aforementioned risk levels are part of the government's "traffic light" scheme, translated by ERR News here.

The scientific council stated that the R rate should remain under 0.95 to open schools and the number of new cases opened daily should not stabilize at the current high plateau.

The council also noted that closing education establishments should be the final measure in establishing restrictions and the first measure when easing restrictions.

The scientific council also pointed out that there are regions in Estonia with very low infection rates, therefore it would be possible to make regional exemptions.

What is R?

The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.

An R value of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable.

If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people. If R is 0.5 then on average for each 2 infected people, there will be only 1 new infection.

If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking. The higher R is above 1, the more people 1 infected person infects and so the faster the epidemic grows.

R can change over time. For example, it falls when there is a reduction in the number of contacts between people, which reduces transmission. R increases when the numbers of contacts between people rise, leading to a rise in viral transmission.

Source: UK government website


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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