Center Riigikogu group chair: Covid certificate could be removed now
The chairman of the Center Party's Riigikogu group, Jaanus Karilaid, says that since the removal of the coronavirus certificate is a political decision, it could just as easily be removed immediately. Karilaid said that the original idea and purpose of the coronavirus certificate has been exhausted. Jaak Aab Minister of Public Administration from the same party, says hospital numbers should still be monitored, however.
"The use of the coronavirus certificate does not prevent the spread of the omicron strain. This is shown by the infection rates of both us and other countries. We disagree with the Reform Party on this issue," Karilaid told ERR.
Karilaid added that he did not support the use of the government's covid-advisory body, the scientific council, as a shield on this issue.
"Covid-19 measures must be relaxed step by step, taking into account both the health arguments and the needs of society and the functioning of the economy," Karilaid said.
Karilaid said that the coronavirus certificate acts as more of a nuisance and also creates an additional blow to the Estonian economy.
Karilaid said that hospitals could share the burden and scheduled treatment should not be abandoned. "The burden on Estonian hospitals for Covid-19 patients is almost twice lower than in other Baltic countries, including the need for intensive care several times lower than during the second or third wave," he said.
Karilaid, also the deputy chairman of the Center Party, noted that vaccination is still the best way to protect public life and health.
Karilaid also said that the abolition of coronavirus passports is planned to be discussed with the Reform Party in the coalition council on Monday.
Aab: Decreasing hospital numbers are a prerequisite for the removal of the coronavirus certificate
However, Jaak Aab Karilaid's party-mate and member of the executive (government ministers do not sit in the legislature in Estonia - ed.) was much more restrained on the topic.
"Regardless of the exact numbers, we have to look at the trend. The number of hospitalizations for symptomatic Covid patients has risen this week. But with the omicron strain, it's hard to predict," Aab said.
ERR asked whether the isolation rules for front-line workers could be changed so that they could return to work in the absence of symptoms, as was the case for medical workers.
"We asked the scientific council and the Health Board (Terviseamet) to assess this. The biggest fear is still the burden on hospitals. The burden has increased this week and some hospitals have said they need to limit scheduled treatment," Aab added.
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said at a government press conference on Thursday that as the number of symptomatic Covid patients in need of hospital treatment is very high, it will not be possible to end the requirement for the coronavirus certificate proof of vaccination or recovery, in order to enter a wide range of venues and events, from February 21. Had hospitalizations due to symptomatic Covid fallen below the 25-per-day mark for the preceding 10 days by February 17, the restriction would have been lifted four days later, but, Kallas said, there was no chance of this happening as of Thursday.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino