Almost 700 Estonian Defense Forces members isolating due to coronavirus

Members of the Estonian Defense Forces.
Members of the Estonian Defense Forces. Source: Valitsuse kommunikatsioonibüroo

Hundreds of members of the Estonian Defense Forces have either tested positive for coronavirus or are isolating as close contacts, the chief medical officer said on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 400 members had tested positive for COVID-19 and 700 were in quarantine.

These include 167 conscripts from the 1st Infantry Brigade who have mild symptoms and will be allowed to return to training in a few days.

Chief medical officer Lieutenant Colonel Targo Lusti said an outbreak occurred at the barracks at the start of the year. Now the outbreaks are slowly getting smaller.

A vaccination order has not been put in place by the Defense Forces for the Omicron strain as it was for previous waves, which led to 46 members being dismissed.

Lusti believes the rule was justified at the time but is not necessary now.

"Currently, in the light of Omicron, such decisions are unlikely to be made. However, the previous strains Alpha and Delta have not disappeared. And there is no guarantee that the virus has stopped mutating," he told Tuesday's broadcast of current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera".

The rule, put in place in August 2021, forced EDF personnel to provide either proof of vaccination against the coronavirus, or of recovery from the disease.

Despite the outbreaks and record-high cases numbers in Estonia, training and exercises between the Defense Forces and allies are still being planned for February and May, said Lieutenant Colonel Ranno Raudsik, commander of the General Staff Exercises Division.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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