Scientific council to argue for Covid restrictions easing

Signage instructing members of the public to don a face-mask.
Signage instructing members of the public to don a face-mask. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Head of the government's scientific council Toivo Maimets says that the Health Board (Terviseamet) and the scientific council are jointly presenting the government's evaluation, on the basis of which, restrictions could be removed.

"The scientific council alongside the Health Board needs to evaluate epidemiological risks and turn to the cabinet on Tuesday with scientific answers," Maimets said. What are these proposals are meant to be clarified during the weekend.

"We would like to remove all of these restrictions, they are disturbing our lives. The restrictions need to be removed as soon as possible, but as slowly as necessary," he went on.

Maimets added that, for example, the U.K. has already recovered from the peak of the infection wave and as a result, adding it is logical to start mitigating the restrictions, meaning similar discussions should be initiated in Estonia as well.

University of Tartu's virology associate professor Margus Varjak said that other countries have eased their restrictions, whereas in reality, this means that they are removing some harsher restrictions and continuing with milder ones as has been the case in Estonia from the start.

Tartu University's family medicine professor Ruth Kalda brought out that in the last weeks, the workload on family doctors has increased significantly and thus it will be discussed whether the primary level capability should be taken into account when analyzing the virus situation.

Kalda said that from the survey conducted among family doctors, it appears that their workload has increased lately. Almost half of the participants admitted that they are not managing their job any more, a third were complaining about exhaustion and two-thirds about stress.

Mait Altmets, the head of the Infection Control Service of the North-Estonian Regional Hospital, also agreed with Kalda saying that more and more people turn to the emergency department and ambulance because they do not receive help from a family doctor quickly enough.

Altmets added that younger hospital staff are also infected with the coronavirus: "The number of hospital needs per week has increased by 100." Although the spread of the virus can be seen in some hospitals, it is inevitable and hospitals should be rebuilt to completely prevent it. There is currently no high prevalence in any hospital.

The members of the scientific council agree that although the proportion of the delta strain is declining, the virus and the threat have not disappeared.

"There are three times fewer hospitalizations, but it is not zero," Maimets said. "I'm anxious that people say omicron is nothing. It's a virus and causes serious illness."


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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