Government does not plan to close society for possible third wave

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An empty Rocca al Mare shopping center after restrictions closed stores on weekends. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Health Board deputy director general Mari-Anne Härma said restrictions should be imposed if the spread of the coronavirus begins disturbing planned treatments. Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) noted that the government does not wish to restrict society in case of a third wave in fall.

The World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have issued a warning that Estonia is moving in a growing trend when it comes to coronavirus spread, Mari-Anne Härma said. She added that the third wave of the coronavirus will be characterized by a growth in spread without major outbreaks, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported over the weekend.

"This means that the number of untraceable infections will grow, absolute numbers will grown and across Estonia. People do not know where they got infected and these chains are untraceable," Härma said.

She added that the number of total cases is not as important as the number of people needing hospital treatment. Thanks to vaccinations, that number might not grow as much as it did during the previous wave.

"The Health Board will begin giving recommendations for restrictions from the point where the readiness of hospitals will begin increasing pressure on scheduled treatments," Härma said.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the state must react before hospitals will get overrun. "When we start speaking about [daily case] numbers in the triple figures, that is the point where we must begin restricting the spread of the virus. That is also the point to assess the spectator limits for different events and the freedom to participate, such as setting a vaccination obligation or proof of recovery or a negative test," Kiik said.

He added that if the virus begins to kick off, the government will not go closing down society as prior, when vaccines were not as easily available and the choices had to be more black and white.

"What we are preparing for mid-August is how we can create additional options to maintain Estonian economy if Estonia is hit with a third wave. /.../ If we need to impose some capacity restrictions, for instance, then the people who are recovered, have proof of a negative test or are vaccinated, could be released from the limit," said Minister of Entrepreneurship and IT Andres Sutt (Reform).

Tanel Kiik added that the government is also working on finding out a way to not close schools or scheduled treatments.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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