Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) has rejected calls from industry lobbyists to shorten coronavirus quarantine periods for what they refer to as key workers in sectors such as the food industry or the energy sector, citing, among other factors, relatively low levels of Covid vaccination coverage compared with many other European states.
Health care workers have been permitted to return to work earlier than 10 days after testing positive for Covid, following a rule change two weeks ago.
Kiik said that: "In making the decision, we have taken into account that the coverage of vaccination in Estonia is below the EU average, i.e. the risks are even higher."
Kiik's further justification is that on the eighth day of illness, a Covid-positive person my still pass on the infection, while the current 10-day isolation period in Estonia is less than the 14 days recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Kiik says he has discussed the matter with both the cabinet and with the government's Covid advisory body, the scientific council.
Research states that even in the absence of Covid symptoms, those who contracted the virus may still pass it on after the fifth day of sickness
At the start of February, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eesti kaubandus- ja tööstuskoda) proposed easing quarantine requirements, in order to alleviate labor shortages and to continue vital services such as food production and energy production
The entrepreneurs were headed up by the Viru Keemia Grupp (VKG), a major player in the oil shale industry.
The address called for employees to be able to return to work provided any symptoms of Covid had abated or were receding, and that their employer was making every effort to combat the spread of the virus.
From February 7, healthcare workers who have contracted Covid have been permitted to return to work ahead of the end of a quarantine period.
The Health Board (Terviseamet) says that medical professionals are by definition better able to protect themselves and others from potential coronavirus risk, compared with staff from other sectors.
Editor: Andrew Whyte