Tallinn, Stenbock House, March 24, 2020 - The COVID-19 Science Council finds that human behaviour is the most critical factor in preventing the spread of the virus. The team of virologists and physicians consider the restrictions imposed in Estonia to be timely and adequate.
Professor Irja Lutsar of the Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine at the University of Tartu told the Emergency Committee about the assessment by the Science Council. "Since the introduction of the restrictions, the epidemic has been relatively stable, without exponential growth," she said. “This shows that restrictions in Estonia slowed down the spread of the virus, but we need to be aware that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a long process that requires patience from everyone. It is inevitable that social isolation measures need to be strengthened to prevent the spread of the virus. "
Consequently, the Science Council recommends that in order to prevent further spread of the virus, it is necessary to strengthen the isolation rules and the functioning of the home regime and to reduce unnecessary presence of people in public spaces and outside the home.
“Given the intensive care resource in Estonia, it is very important to prevent a sudden overload of the health care system,” said Irja Lutsar. "This is despite the fact that Estonian hospitals and family doctors have made thorough preparations for dealing with COVID patients."
"In this health crisis, every person's own contribution to preventing the spread of the virus is crucial," said Irja Lutsar. “Anyone who has come in contact with or suspects that he or she has been exposed to the virus must definitely avoid contact to anyone outside the home. Strict isolation rules must be followed and the person has to stay indoors for 14 days. The sick person must stay at home until healing is assessed by the family doctor. Only this way will we be able to contain the spread of the virus.”
In their recommendations to the government committee, the researchers stressed the need to systematically inform at-risk groups, especially the elderly. There is a need to improve the monitoring of people in home care and isolation and to distance people in public space. However, it should not be forgotten that younger people and children are also infected with coronavirus.
The researchers also provided an overview of what Estonia can do to support the development of the vaccine. The Emergency Committee also received an overview of treatment options available in other countries.
In addition to Professor Irja Lutsar, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Health Development Kristi Rüütel, Chief Medical Officer of the North Estonian Regional Hospital and Professor of Surgical Diseases at the University of Tartu Peep Talving, doctor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tartu Pilleriin Soodor and Professor of Research of practical virology at the University of Tartu Andres Merits are members of the Science Council.
The strategy bureau of the Government Office organizes the work of the Science Council.