Health Board chief: No lock-down this summer

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Üllar Lanno. Source: ERR

Head of the Health Board (Terviseamet) Üllar Lanno says that coronavirus indicators last week were such that summer is not likely to see lock-down in Estonia. Back in March Lanno had said that summer might need to be 'cancelled'.

"One thing is clear: summer is coming," Lanno said Wednesday afternoon.

Of concrete reasons to believe this – weather aside – last week's weekly death toll of 17, the lowest of 2021 so far, among those who had contracted COVID-19, a fall below 300 of the 14-day coronavirus rate per 100,000 inhabitants, to 291, representing an 18 percent drop in the past week, and an "R" rate of 0.88 were all indicators Lanno cited in support of his words.

Hanna Sepp, head of the board's infectious diseases department, agreed, saying: ""The intensity of the disease is high, but its trend is declining."

"We hope to reach average morbidity rates in the near future," Sepp added.

At the same time, the easing of restrictions which began Monday will not have made their presence felt among COVID-19 rates yet, while next Monday brings a further lifting of restrictions.

From Friday, hospitals are also reducing COVID-19 bed places to 378 (from X), with just over 30 set aside for intensive care cases.

As of Wednesday, 204 people were hospitalized due to coronavirus.

By county breakdown, while infections are still rising in Ida-Viru and Tartu counties, as well as Valga and Pärnu counties, areas previously of concern, particularly the populous residential districts in or near Tallinn: Lasnamäe, Mustamäe and Maardu, no longer are coronavirus hot-spots, the board reports.

Rates among 10-14-year-olds, who will now be back in school, also rose last week, the board says.

Other areas of concern, namely imported cases and more virulent strains, in the former case, just under 50 cases were brought in last week, mainly from Russia and also Sweden and Finland – three of Estonia's nearest neighbors – and, while the "British" strain is very common, only 64 "South African" cases have been found, along with four "Indian" strain cases, all of them brought in from outside Estonia.

Perceived threats of a "cancelation" of summer are sometimes met with a media frenzy in Estonia; prime minister Kaja Kallas faced criticism for, it was claimed, doing exactly that, towards the end of March, when she suggested lock-down might be coming in summer. At the time, the weekly coronavirus case rate had exceeded 10,000, for the first time since the pandemic began.

The Jaanipäev (midsummer) break, June 23-24, is one of the largest national holidays, while the weeks around and following it see large numbers of people head for summer homes outside of the larger population centers.

The current coronavirus restrictions permit outdoor gatherings of up to 250, provided social distancing is maintained.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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