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The Health Board: let’s not allow to slip away what we have achieved thanks to the restrictions

Even though the daily number of new coronavirus cases has been dropping quite considerably over the last few weeks, the infection multiplier curve (the ‘R’ number) has now turned upwards again in several counties, and the epidemiological situation may deteriorate once again when restrictions are eased. Thanks to this, the Health Board would like to call on everyone to remain reasonable in their behaviour, and to continue avoiding any unnecessary contact with others, as we may easily end up losing what has been achieved. The daily number of new cases has only just reached the level of last December.

Based on the infection indicators of the past seven days, the spread of the virus has increased amongst children as well as in the elderly. The impact of the end of the school holiday has not yet become fully clear in the statistical data but, based on previous experience, the number of cases amongst young people can be expected to increase. ‘Keeping in mind the fact that the situation has currently been alleviated by several restrictions upon our normal daily lives, we must be especially careful. We have received several signals today that a shopping craze has been ignited in shopping centres and that the rules of social distancing are not being observed. We understand people’s desire is to get back to normal, but cancelling restrictions may result in a speedy setback if we forget our own safety. Let’s remain as reasonable as we were when the restrictions were applied, because the situation still remains very difficult,’ explained Üllar Lanno, director-general of the Health Board.

The Health Board advises all smartphone users to download the HOIA.me app which is now detecting any potential close contact with infected individuals, and more accurately than ever before. This is a great little assistant for anyone who wants to visit shoe shops or the outdoor terraces of restaurants, for example, where they will come into contact with strangers.

Even though the overall number of hospitalised coronavirus patients has decreased, the number of those patients who require intensive care remains unchanged. ‘Fifty-two patients required intensive care a week ago, and today that figure has even managed to increase by one further case. There is only one less patient on a ventilator compared to last week. Those figures are extremely concerning, and clearly indicate that the need for high-level intensive care in our hospitals remains at a very high level,’ said Lanno.

The initial rapid decline in the daily number of new coronavirus cases has now almost stopped. We have stepped down from the ‘red’ level to the ‘orange’ level in the risk matrix which is calculated by the ECDC (the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control), which assesses the average infection rate within the past seven days. This is mainly thanks to the lower number of deaths taking place, rather that to the lower number of new cases. ‘These are all highly concerning signs which may be followed by one or more of several possible outcomes. We may reach a plateau from which it will be nigh impossible to move back down to lower levels. The situation may, however, also be followed by a new rise. No one wants that, but the future is in our own hands. In conclusion, I would like to point out that, exactly one year ago, we had only one new coronavirus case a day in Estonia, and yet a state of emergency was in force. Today, when the restrictions had been eased, an astonishing 179 new cases were added, but the perception in people of there still being a threat is considerably lower,’ said the director-general of the Health Board.

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