Virologist: Counting isolation days no longer necessary with Covid

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

While head of Estonia's COVID-19 Scientific Council, molecular biologist Toivo Maimets believes people should stay home for five days after being diagnosed with the coronavirus, virologist Irja Lutsar no longer deems it necessary.

Member of the COVID-19 Scientific Council, family doctor Ruth Kalda told "Aktuaalne kaamera" news that there is still quite a high risk of Covid in Estonia.

"Based on the [coronavirus prevalence] survey we carried out before Christmas, we can say that roughly every 17th person has the virus and perhaps every 25th or 26th person is infectious. In other words, there are likely several people on every bus we take, and definitely in every shop we visit, who could pass the virus on," Kalda explained.

While there are no official restrictions in Estonia, people are urged to stay home for five days if they have the coronavirus. Virologist Irja Lutsar said that the coronavirus should be treated as any other seasonal viral infection and that counting days in isolation is no longer necessary.

"Someone coming down with a viral or bacterial disease should stay home, also during the holidays, while healthy people are welcome to go outside. Counting the days... no other country does that anymore either, even China ended its quarantines," Lutsar said.

Toivo Maimets, head of the COVID-19 Scientific Council, said that observing the five-day rule is still sensible and sees no reason to change the recommendation.

"Not everyone recovers in five days. Just as not everyone is no longer infectious after five days. It is a public health compromise of sorts, and [staying home for] five days is still sensible," Maimets remarked.

He added that wearing a mask is also welcome if the person does not feel 100 percent.

GP Ruth Kalda said that while the flu is no less dangerous than Covid, the latter is many times as contagious.

"It spreads rapidly, many times faster than the flu. Even though the current flu has more serious symptoms than the Omicron variant [of the coronavirus]. That said, we never know whether we will land a mild or severe case of Covid," Kalda added.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski

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