Estonian health official: Spread of Indian strain likelier than that of British strain

  • 2021-06-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Mari-Anne Harma, deputy director general of the Health Board, said at a press conference on the COVID-19 situation in Estonia on Wednesday that the Indian strain of coronavirus may replace the British strain already in the coming months.

According to Harma, the absolute number of cases brought in to Estonia has decreased. "Cases have mainly been brought in from Finland, Turkey and Russia, but infection is showing a downward trend in the whole of Europe," she said.

"Last week, one case of the Brazilian or gamma strain and two cases of the Indian or delta strain were identified. These were all cases brought in from abroad," Harma said.

According to Harma, the potential of the spread of the Indian strain is greater than that of the British strain. "The Indian strain may replace the British strain in Europe in the coming months," she added.

According to her, in light of new strains, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued a warning regarding the organization of major events in Europe, meaning care must be taken with major events.

The WHO said on Tuesday that one of the three COVID-19 variants identified in India, which has been named "delta", is considered to be of concern, the other two strains are not considered more dangerous than usual.

Virus variant B.1.617, which is partly associated with an explosive outbreak in India, has also been referred to as a triple mutant because it is divided into three strains.

In May, the WHO declared the entire so-called Indian strain a variant of concern (VOC), but it was said on Tuesday that only one sub-strain is concerning.

"All signs are showing that the pandemic will not disappear from the world this summer," Estonian Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik said.

According to him, everyone can follow rules and get vaccinated as soon as possible to limit the spread. "When making plans for summer and fall, it is worth looking at it from the point of view that it is safe to travel in Europe, but not all over the world. In exotic countries, infection rates can be much higher than official statistics show," Kiik said.

"In ten weeks, infection numbers have dropped 12-fold and half a million doses of vaccine have been used. That is also why we could allow the mask obligation to be replaced by a recommendation. However, one should be careful and wear a mask in some places, such as care homes. The procedures laid down by the institutions must be followed," he said.

COVID-19 vaccination project leader Marek Seer said that the website provides information on where vaccination times are available. "I recommend that people use it. The time of the first dose can be booked, the time of the second dose cannot be chosen by the person and it is assigned," he said.