Government advisor: Family quarantine may head off further restrictions

Irja Lutsar, chief of the government's coronavirus advisory council.
Irja Lutsar, chief of the government's coronavirus advisory council. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Head of the government's scientific council - it's coronavirus advisory council - Professor Irja Lutsar told ERR Tuesday that good behavior on the part of the public has caused infection rates to come down in all counties and age groups nationwide, adding that ensuing restrictions could be headed off by establishing a quarantine requirement for close contact family members.

"What the scientific council still recommends is establishing quarantine requirement for family members because a lot of the infection takes place in families," Lutsar said.

"We will propose it be seven days, culminating in a PCR test. In the current scenario, this would enable us to avoid all other restrictions."

She added that preventing the following restrictions from being established, is following the current ones. Lutsar said that the 80,000 booster shots have helped with the spread of the virus slowing down.

Lustar said that Estonians are generally reasonable and ready to rearrange their lives, sensing the risk and putting their social lives on hold.

"Maybe what worked for us is that all communities admitted that there's a serious problem," Lutsar analyzed why the infection rate has decreased. "We've talked about the fact that no restrictions can work if people don't follow their edicts."

Lutsar added that it's hard to find anyone not wearing a mask, at a Tartu store, for instance. She also said that people in all counties have understood the seriousness of the situation.

Lutsar said that as of now, all people who wished to get vaccinated are vaccinated by now and reaching people who don't want to will be difficult. This is the reason she finds it important to focus on booster shots from now on, and especially in care homes.

More specifically, Lutsar said that there were a lot of new outbreaks in the care homes last week: "There were over 570 infected people in care homes last week, but only a few of them need hospital treatment."

"Yes, the immunity caused by the vaccine is starting to be outdated because there are very old and sick people whose immunity lasts shorter than in the case of young and completely healthy people. Giving booster doses in care homes should be the first priority."

Lutsar said that measures to avoid restrictions should be looked at first. "I can honestly say that I don't see any method that would quickly bring immunity to people after vaccination."

"Taking a look at the hospitals' data, 70 percent of the people in the hospital haven't received any doses of the vaccine, while 90 percent of the people in the intensive care unit haven't received any doses of the vaccine: That's the time-bomb we're actually sitting on."


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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