Estonia may reach point of dropping mask mandate within next 2-3 weeks

Masks. Source: Ellina Katšan

The Health Board predicts that within the next two to three weeks, Estonia may reach the yellow level on the risk matrix mapping the spread risk of the COVID-19 virus, the point at which the Scientific Advisory Board believes the repealing of the public mask mandate could be considered.

According to the risk matrix, the risk level of the spread of the COVID virus may be low, medium, high, or very high — or green, yellow, orange, or red, respectively. The key indicators for determining the risk level are the number of people infected with the virus and the number of people hospitalized with it.

The COVID risk level in Estonia was reduced from red to orange on Tuesday.

The Health Board's epidemiological overview is currently forecasting that the risk matrix may reach the medium or yellow risk level sometime during the next two to three weeks. It does not expect Estonia to reach the low or green level before May.

Scientific Advisory Board chairman Toivo Maimets told ERR on Monday that repealing the mask mandate should be up for discussion once the risk matrix mapping the risk level for the spread of COVID drops from red to yellow.

"Right now we have downgraded from red to orange, and it can be seen that there is a downward trend across the field," Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said at the government press conference held in Narva on Tuesday. "Next week we can look at what the state of the spread of the virus is and what the forecasts are and provide clearer messages regarding when the mask mandate might be replaced with a recommendation."

The epidemiological overview published on Wednesday based on data as of Monday, March 21 notes that the seven-day average number of persons in Estonia infected with the COVID virus is 1,567.6. This also indicates a 26.8 percent drop on week.

The reproduction number R has remained steady below 0.75. The Health Board has warned that there is a small chance that R may increase to over 0.8 again once restrictions are lifted.

Also noted in the epidemiological overview is that of those who died in the fourth wave of COVID (beginning December 13, 2021), 73.2 percent were unvaccinated. This is similar to the proportion of unvaccinated people — 74.5 percent — among those who died in the third wave of COVID (between July 1-December 12, 2021).


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