Härma: Delta variant spreading slower than first feared

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The coronavirus Delta variant is not yet dominant in Estonia because the disease is spreading in outbreaks not widely across the country, Deputy Head of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma said on Wednesday. Contact tracers can also do their work thoroughly due to the small number of cases.

Speaking on "Vikerhommik" on Wednesday morning, Härma said the Delta variant is largely spreading in Russia and makes the issue of crossing the border in Ida-Viru County more sensitive.

As people have the right to cross the border, many people do so to shop, buy gasoline or visit relatives. But it is also easy to bring the virus back with them.

It can now be seen that the Delta variant is not spreading as fast as expected in Estonia, she said. At the start of June, after leaping from 7 percent of new cases to 25 percent the rise has slowed. Over the past two weeks, the share of cases caused by the strain rose to 27 percent and then 33 percent.

"If we had a widespread prevalence and rising trend, it would have become dominant more quickly. But now, the outbreak in Rapla County is over, the Delta variant ran out. Rather, those infected with this strain who are coming in now can be dealt with nicely, and maybe one or two more cases will come in the form of family members. In general, it [the share] remains stationary," she said.  

Due to the low number of cases, it is possible for contact tracers to do their work thoroughly. The Health Board is also calling people who recently crossed the border to check they are still in isolation.

Härma reiterated that it is still mandatory to get a coronavirus test at the border if you arrive in Estonia from a third country. If not, the traveler must quarantine for 10 days. While some people, such as hauliers and diplomats, do not need to do so, the number of passengers coming to Estonia is still smaller than usual so the effect on the infection rate is low.

As of Tuesday, it is known that four cases of the virus were brought back into Estonia by people who went to watch the European Football Championship in St Petersburg. She said that the risk of infection for a person who has completed the vaccination cycle is low.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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