Statistician: Covid R rate in Estonia now at 1.0

Krista Fischer.
Krista Fischer. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The R rate of coronavirus infection has fallen to 1.0, at least for the time being, statistician and member of the government's coronavirus advisory body Krista Fischer says.

More time is needed, however, to see if the change is not just temporary, she said, while virtual lockdown may be on its way if the virus starts to spread again, the scientific council - the government's advisory body during the pandemic - says.

Fischer told ERR Saturday that: "R has moved down to one … There is a feeling that the [earlier] exponential growth is no longer going at that rate right now."

However, it is still too early to say whether R, previously at 1.3 nationwide, would remain at 1.0, meaning the effectiveness of the latest restrictions the government introduced last Monday cannot be fully estimated yet.

A revised R figure next week, for instance on Wednesday, would give a clearer picture, Fischer said, adding it cannot yet be said either that the crest of the third wave had passed or that the easing of measures could yet go ahead.

"There is a need to review existing measures to see what can be better controlled. Adherence to quarantine requirements is very important. If an individual goes to work while ill, it is very likely that the spread of infection will go on," she said.

Hospitalizations were likely to continue to rise, she said, with the possibility in place of 700 patients, up from the current 580, while even if the rate of infection fell, the number of people requiring hospitalization might lag behind that for some time longer.

The scientific council also proposed the government monitor the impact of the measures put in place during the week on infection rates and hospitalizations and, if these have not proved effective enough, harsher restrictions which may even mean the complete halting of the working of entertainment events and venues, and restrictions on movement.

The council also recommends quarantine applies to vaccinated close household contacts, with the exception of those who have been vaccinated in the past three months or recovered from the virus during that time.

The rapid testing of both vaccinated and non-vaccinated schoolchildren should go on, the council recommends, while schools or classes should base their activities on infection rates and in taking into account the number of vaccinated pupils and staff, and the level of infection in the surrounding community, as well as in the classroom.

Accelerating the administration of booster doses is also a priority for the council.

As to measures which have already had their effect, Fischer said that: "There are a number of things that have been done. School canteen opening hours have been regulated and coronarvirus certificate checks conducted more carefully."

"Rapid testing in schools has been a good measure, as the virus was very common among schoolchildren. Steps are being taken to quickly identify infected children."

The government is currently deliberating more stringent measures being put in place, but is awaiting further data on the effects of the latest round of restrictions before making its decision.

Exemptions from any new restrictions have already been applied to the PÖFF film festival, due to start next Friday, November 12, and which the government says is one of the most prestigious movie festivals in the world, on the grounds that canceling it would do irreparable damage to Estonia's international reputation and lead to litigation from participants


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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