Scientific council recommended government ease restrictions more carefully

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Fotografiska restaurant in Tallinn.

The government's advisory scientific council recommended the government begin easing restrictions by first opening schools, but took a more careful position in easing restrictions indoors.

On Friday, the published scientific council recommendations to the government stated that restrictions should be eased in educational establishments and outdoor conditions.

"The scientific council recommends that the government continue not relax other restrictions imposed on indoor conditions before the average daily 7-day infection rate in Estonia has dropped below 300 and the number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients falls below 200 (not before May 24). Even then, restrictions imposed indoors should be eased gradually, considering high and low infection risk activities," the council stated.

The council warned that simultaneous easing of restrictions will bring forth a significant increase in the amount of contacts, which is likely to increase the R infection rate and will also lead to an increase in the number of infections and hospitalizations.

The scientific council also made updates to three possible forecasts, the realization of which depend on further changes to the R rate.

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.

Scenario one

The R rate will continue to increase and will stabilize over 1. In this scenario, Estonia will stay on orange, i.e. the high risk level, and will reach red in the beginning of June, i.e. the highest risk level. This scenario is likely if peoples' sense of danger will continue to decrease and mobility would concurrently increase while the effects of vaccination have still not shown.

Scenario two

The R rate begins to increase and is over 1 for a short period and then stabilizes around 1 for a period. In this scenario, daily infections would remain the same on average, varying around 200-400 daily. In this scenario, infections is May and June would remain on orange, i.e. high risk level. It is likely that the spread of the coronavirus would eventually trend downward due to seasonality and/or vaccinations, but the time is not predictable and change could not take place before the end of June.

Scenario three

The R rate trends downward again and remains below 1. In this scenario, infections would stabilize on orange, i.e. high risk level and would reach the medium risk level in the second half of July.

According to the scientific council's forecast, the most realistic optimistic scenario falls somewhere between the last two presented scenarios.

More info on the "traffic light" scheme can be read here. For an overview of all the relaxations to come, click here.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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