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Former government Covid advisor: Virus is now on a par with the flu

Professor Irja Lutsar.
Professor Irja Lutsar. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The coronavirus has now lost its immediacy, and as a result must now been seen as any other viral illness, such as influenza, virologist and former head of the government's Covid advisory body Professor Irja Lutsar says.

Appearing on ERR radio talk show "Vikerhommik" Wednesday morning, Lutsar said: "In Estonia, as everyehere else, we can see that the coronavirus has changed in a significant way - there are plenty of infected people, but few who are seriously unwell, and even fewer in intensive care."

There have not been any patients under tertiary intensive care due to Covid, for several weeks, she added.

"In my opinion the right approach is to treat it as an illness, one which you do not unconditionally catch or spread, but one like the 'flu, meaning it does not need to be treated in the way it was a year ago," Lutsar went on.

Most likely, US President Joe Biden had such thoughts in mind when he recently declared the pandemic over, she added, noting that the US itself cannot ultimately make that declaration – which is for the World Health Organization (WHO), she said.

"Instead, President Biden noted the already existing situation," Lutsar said.

With regard to the formerly mandatory precaution of wearing a face-mask in public places, Lutsar said this was a matter for the individual – those who have several risk factors all at once, such as being elderly, suffering from respiratory ailments and necessarily having to move around in large crowds, or even simply being overweight – may wish to wear a face-mask, she said.

"It is our duty to take a neutral approach. It all depends on an individual's own judgment. At the same time, one must also bear in mind that if one is sick, one is not expected to go to crowded places, whether you have the 'flu or Covid," she went on.

Viral infections present their greatest danger in the very first days of infection, and if and individual had just fallen seriously ill, it wouldn't make sense to go to a concert, say, or to work.

However, a set number of days during which one must self-isolate at home is not something which can be set in stone, Lutsar added.

Professor Lutsar is a former head of the government's scientific council, set up in the wake of the arrival of the pandemic in March 2020.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: Vikerhommik

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