Prime Minister tests positive in country ravaged by coronavirus

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·2-min read

A small European nation has seen an explosion in coronavirus cases as the country's prime minister tested positive after being swept up in the surging wave of Covid.

Estonia is now considered to have the highest official infection rate in the world (after overtaking the Czech Republic) as cases have surged in the nation of just 1.3 million people.

The seven-day average rate of infection more than doubled over February, as the Baltic country took a comparatively relaxed approach, with schools, cinemas, restaurants, shops allowed to open with few restrictions.

While infection rates have dropped significantly in the US, UK and at least steadied in most European countries, Estonia has seen cases surge upward with 1,414 new infections reported on average each day, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Two graphs show the spike in daily infections and deaths in Estonia.
Cases have exploded in the European nation more than a year into the global pandemic. Source: Reuters

Estonia's worst Covid wave, one year after pandemic began

There have been 86,086 infections and 728 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country, but more than a year after the global pandemic began Estonia is experiencing its pandemic peak.

Last week the country banned groups larger than two people, closed non-essential shops and told restaurants to switch to take-aways as it battles the rising cases.

The US State Department has since issued a Level 3 Advisory notice warning citizens to reconsider travel to Estonia due to the surge in virus cases.

The country's prime minister Kaja Kallas tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday (local time) but is feeling well, the country’s government said.

Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has Covid.
Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says she has no idea how she contracted Covid-19. Source: Facebook

“I am closely monitoring my health and staying at home until I recover,” said the 43-year-old, who became the Baltic nation’s first female head of government in January.

"I only had a small fever and a positive result is not what I expected – proof of how insidious this virus is.

Ms Kallas said she was in isolation for 10 days until Thursday when she tested negative and had been limiting her contact with staff and others.

"And like many of you, I don't know exactly how I could get infected," she wrote in a Facebook post this morning.

Like many other European nations, Estonia halted the rollout of some AstraZeneca vaccine batches due to concerns over a possible, albeit very rare, side effect resulting in blood clots.

with Reuters

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