Head of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Council, Toivo Maimets, said that there is enough scientific data to prove that wearing a mask helps save lives and that the obligation to wear a mask needs to be retained at this time.
"Life is easier than it was the day before yesterday, while I cannot go as far as call it carefree. COVID-19 hospitalizations have fallen almost twofold compared to the peak. But there are still 240 people hospitalized with the coronavirus and people are dying every day. There are also more coronavirus positive people in society than ever before," Maimets told Vikerraadio on Wednesday.
Maimets remains in favor of the continued obligation to wear a mask in public. "There are few measures that have been scientifically proven to slow the spread of the virus. Hospitalizations and deaths go down if masks are used. It is sensible to follow the example of other countries that have lifted restrictions but retained masks," he said.
Wearing one will become voluntary eventually, while it is too soon today, Maimets added.
Maimets also emphasized the importance and positive effect of booster doses. "Booster doses have a positive effect on immunity. Both international data and Krista Fischer's research [in Estonia] suggest that people who have gotten both vaccine doses are less likely to require hospitalization and die, while those who have also gotten a booster shot are even better served and start to develop cellular immunity," Maimets said.
Ukraine war refugees are not expected to influence the COVID-19 situation in Estonia. "I attended a meeting yesterday headed by the European health commissioner where it turned out that countries that have taken in a lot more refugees than Estonia have not reported changes in Covid illness rates. It is not held to be a problem," Maimets said.
"We will meet next fall optimistically, while we need to work with all potential scenarios. Continue vaccination, addressing hospitals' staffing problems and other concerns," Maimets told Vikerraadio.
Currently valid COVID-19 restrictions can be found here.
Editor: Marcus Turovski