Estonia not planning new COVID-19 measures after Chinese outbreak

Coronavirus testing station.
Coronavirus testing station. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Experts have agreed there is currently no need for Estonia to introduce new coronavirus measures after China lifted restrictions, creating a new wave of infections, earlier this month.

Special rules are not needed as there are no direct flights between Estonia and China, the Ministry of Social Affairs' coronavirus crisis management team said. 

It said new measures must be coordinated with the European Union if a situation arises where they are needed.

Estonia and the EU are concentrating on monitoring and sequencing virus samples in order to catch dangerous new substrains early

"Our emphasis is on the sequencing of virus samples because the information coming out of China is insufficient. The goal is to track down the emergence of new strains which either spread faster or cause more severe illness as early as possible," said Toivo Maimets, head of the government's scientific council.

Coronavirus testing at Tallinn Airport. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The University of Tartu professor said, according to available data, the same substrains are circulating in both China and Estonia.

The EU has quickly gathered information in a unified way, said Heidi Alasepa, deputy chancellor of the Ministry of Social Affairs' Health Department.

It has also promised to cover the costs of additional sequencing.

Birgit Lao, director general of the Health Board, said the agency is still monitoring wastewater to detect new strains and has increased its laboratory capacity.

"We are monitoring the situation abroad and constantly assessing the necessity of risk-adjusted measures. Also, at the beginning of the new year, people should seriously consider whether traveling to countries with a high prevalence of the virus is still necessary," she said.

Coronavirus testing kit. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Lao said countries could impose new restrictions quickly and with little notice. This may make it difficult to travel home again.

The Ministry of Social Affairs recommends taking proof of vaccination on trips, as well as protective masks and disinfectants. Additionally, combined antigen tests that detect both Covid-19 and influenza could be useful.

The crisis management team suggests people get vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19 as precautions.

China lifted its stringent coronavirus lockdown rules earlier this month which has led to a wave of new infections.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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