Health minister: Second wave of COVID-19 is coming to a close

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Noblessner district in June last year. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center) confirmed that the second wave of coronavirus is gradually coming to a close. Infection indicators have been in a freefall for weeks, which allows Estonians to have a carefree summer.

"All signs point to a beautiful, healthy and relatively restriction-free summer," Kiik said at a Health Board press conference on Wednesday, adding that the seasonality of the virus and the growing rate of vaccine coverage in Estonia has pushed coronavirus infection rates into a freefall.

The minister said Estonia could move to the "yellow" i.e. medium risk scenario in its traffic light scheme and that daily infection numbers can drop below a hundred soon.

If the downward trend continues, Estonia's infection rate per 100,000 people over 14 days can fall below 150 by the end of the week (154.2 as of Wednesday). This would move Estonia into the EU's list of medium risk countries. The low risk country target is 25 infected persons per 100,000 people over 14 days and Estonia could reach that point by July if the current trend continues.

Estonia's vaccination tempo stands around 30,000 people weekly. This week should see the 500,000 vaccination mark exceeded, half of all adults should be vaccinated by the end of June and 70 percent of adults should be inoculated by July's end, if vaccine shipments continue as scheduled and peoples' interest remains high.

Estonia's COVID-19 certificate needs updating

Kiik said the digital green certificates will be harmonized in the EU, which means those who have already applied for an Estonian certificate about recovery or vaccination must get a new one for it to be valid in the EU.

"We will let people know personally," the minister said.

He also emphasized that countries' requirements on travel are still different, regardless of a common digital certificate and that people should always check what the quarantine, testing or vaccination requirements in the destination country are before travelling. During the summer, EU member state requirements might also be harmonized, however.

Indian strain can take over for British strain

The Indian variant of the coronavirus is more and more common in Europe. Two cases of it were also identified in Estonia last week, both being brought in from abroad. There are 17 cases thought to be the Indian strain still being confirmed over the past two weeks. In addition, the first Brazilian strain case was discovered in Estonia, also brought in from abroad.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Indian variant can soon take over for the UK strain in Europe, as its potential for spread is greater.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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