Health minister: The crisis is not here to stay

Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center).
Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said at a press conference on Wednesday that Estonia is moving toward the end of the pandemic every day.

"It is not like the crisis has come to stay, it is not like regular life will never return," Kiik said and pointed to Nordic countries, which have achieved high vaccination rates.

The minister said that while Estonia's goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population did not come true, 66 percent of the population have been inoculated and 72 percent have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus. "There are still a couple of [percentage] points to go, but I am sure we can do it," Kiik said.

He said that Estonia's vaccination coverage is set to grow this week because 14,800 of the single-dose Janssen vaccines arrived recently. 10,000 of those were "borrowed" from Spain and almost all doses have been booked as of Wednesday.

"This week, the government cabinet discussed topics of revaccination," Kiik said and added that Estonia has begun administering additional doses to people with weaker immune systems.

In October, third doses will be administered to other people. The option to get a third dose will first be available to healthcare and care home workers and the elderly after which the queue will move toward frontline workers.

Kiik confirmed that the government is of the same mind about funding being found from the state budget to keep vaccinations free for everyone.

Health Board acting director Mari-Anne Härma said that since the number of infections is increasing, the Health Board must reprioritize. The board will not question infected people about the source of their infection as much going forward and the public will also not receive data that is as detailed as it has been before.

She added that the most infections come from younger people and hospitalized patients are mostly unvaccinated older people.

Although Estonia is currently on the medium risk level in terms of infection risk, but current estimates show that the country will reach the high risk level on October 7.

Härma also pointed to the high burden on hospitals in southern Estonia, which will be aided by hospitals in the northern region, which will begin taking in coronavirus patients from the overburdened hospitals. The coronavirus situation has not yet reached a level, where scheduled treatments should be limited.

The Health Board official noted that less than 5 percent of close contacts in schools have gotten infected and that is important knowledge for further strategy planning. She added that 95 percent of the infected children had clear symptoms, therefore there is no risk of hidden spread in schools.

Health Board deputy director Mari-Anne Härma. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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