Health Board director: Third wave of COVID-19 has clearly begun

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Üllar Lanno. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The current increase in infection cases is due to the spread of the Delta strain of the virus and the third wave of COVID-19 has started in Estonia, Üllar Lanno, director general of the Health Board, said at a press conference on the COVID-19 situation on Wednesday.

"The delta strain is very clearly evident. At the beginning of June there was a moment when the delta strain accounted for 8-10 percent of all samples. Today we have reached 80 percent and above," Lanno said.

According to Lanno, there are regions in Estonia where the infection rate has risen very rapidly.

"If we look at projections up to the month of August, what we are seeing today is that there will be 150 infection cases a day in mid-August. It's all in the hands of our own people. Mostly we are seeing an increase in infections in South Estonia," the head of the Health Board said.

He added that there could be 250 cases a day by September.

"The Health Board has the most important and fundamental role to play in limiting the Delta strain. No one wants the situation that we had in August of last year. But one thing is clear - the third wave has started now," Lanno said.

"This disease has also shifted towards the younger generation. Last week, no outbreaks were registered in care institutions, in that respect we have managed to established control. The situation probably will remain as it is or become more severe. It depends on our input. Vaccination is still the magic wand today, we need to work towards it before the school year begins," Lanno added . 

Irja Lutsar, head of the government's scientific council, said that the disease spreads in waves and that "nothing is over until everything is over."

"We know that vaccines are not perfect and that vaccinated people can also be infected. But they have a lower viral load. Vaccinated people also need to know that first generation vaccines are not perfect, there is nothing special about that. However, the vaccinated must follow the same rules," Lutsar added.

She said that young people who assess the vaccine's effect as negative should think of their lifestyle in a broader sense. Lutsar said excessive alcohol consumption is much worse for the health.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) emphasized that infection rates are up all over Europe and it is only a matter of time until that trend reaches Estonia. Kiik said having the virus comes with much longer-standing effects than simple vaccines.

"We can say that there are two choices in the broader sense, we either go the way of restrictions or the way of vaccinations, both for society as a whole and all of us individually," Kiik said.

Tallinn to attract people for vaccinations with ice cream and cheap zoo tickets

Marek Seer, head of the COVID-19 vaccination work group, said that vaccinations without prior registration will be conducted in three locations in Tallinn this Sunday - Sõle Center in Põhja-Tallinn, Kaja cultural center in Mustamäe and Sikupilli Center near mid-town.

"People getting vaccinated at these locations will be able to enter Tallinn Zoo 70 percent cheaper and Balbiino ice creams will be offered to the first people to show up for vaccinations," Seer said.

In addition, vaccination buses will begin operating this week. A Viljandi Hospital bus will travel to Sillamäe on Wednesday and Thursday and will move on to Maardu from there, the two locations with the slowest vaccination pace in Estonia. On Saturday, Qvalitas buses will be at Tallinn's Central Market.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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