Health Board: Coronavirus severity will not be downgraded in near future

Tallinn in December 2021.
Tallinn in December 2021. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Coronavirus will not be reclassified as a common infectious disease instead of the current dangerous one in the near future, the Health Board (Terviseamet) has said.

The agency believes coronavirus should remain in its current legal category indefinitely because it spreads rapidly and increases the burden on hospitals.

Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Health Board Hanna Sepa said the way the state reacts to the virus is more important than its legal definition.

"We do not relax restrictions due to the definition, but due to the situation. We apply restrictions according to the real situation," Sepp emphasized. "Because we call COVID-19 a dangerous infectious disease, it gives us the opportunity to apply restrictions if necessary, but at the moment we don't create restrictions because the real situation is different."

Sepp said the definition can be changed when an effective treatment that prevents hospitalization is available.

"Then we could define the coronavirus as a seasonal infectious disease. Although it is still seasonal, it still poses some serious problems for us," said Sepp.

Last week, the former head of the government's scientific advisory council Irja Lutsar said when Denmark lifted all of its restrictions it also recategorized the severity of COVID-19.

The level of severity means it is possible for the government to impose restrictions that can reduce fundamental rights, close schools and restrict businesses.

Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said the virus could be reclassified in the spring but conditions related to vaccination need to be met first.

"We are currently waiting for research on virus variants and other strains, which depends on whether we can call coronavirus a common cold," Kiik said.

On Thursday morning, there were 291 hospitalized patients with coronavirus in Estonia. Of these, 114 require hospitalization for severe cases. Hospitals can admit around 700 coronavirus patients.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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