Prime Minister Jüri Ratas announced on Sunday, March 15, that all foreign nationals will be barred from entering Estonia from Tuesday, March 17, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The directive does not apply to foreign nationals who are transiting through Estonia in order to reach their home country, who will be allowed to continue their journey as long as they are not showing symptoms of the virus. While Estonian nationals and their close family members, and residents, will still be allowed to enter the country, they will be required to undergo 14-days isolation. Prime Minister Ratas confirmed increased screening measures at all border crossing points including temperature screenings. He also said that the measures will be reviewed every two weeks.
The government announced a state of emergency on Thursday, March 12, leading to the suspension of schools and public gatherings through May 1.
As of March 15, officials have confirmed 115 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Estonia. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.