Following the diagnosis of the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCOV) in France, other European countries are preparing for possible cases as well, including Estonia, which currently sends its samples to Sweden for testing but will be equipped to do its own lab testing for the virus within the next couple of weeks.
The current coronavirus and its spread have been compared first and foremost with the related severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that began to spread in 2002, which did not reach Estonia, but considering the fact that no vaccine currently exists for the Wuhan virus, people are currently worried about the course of the illness as well as its most serious possible complication — death, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) writes (link in Estonian).
As of January 25, a total of 2,104 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed, with a death toll of 56, indicating a mortality rate of 3-4 percent, Kadai said; in comparison, a total of nearly 55,000 people in Estonia were diagnosed with influenza during the 2018-2019 flu season, 57 of whom died, indicating a mortality rate of 0.1 percent.
The Health Board has already sent guidelines to healthcare providers regarding what personal protective equipment is required in the handling of patients that are either confirmed or suspected to be carrying the virus, and according to Kadai, these are fairly standard everyday items, including respirators, protective gowns and protective gloves, and, in the case of certain procedures, protective goggles and long-sleeved waterproof protective gowns as well.
At this time, Estonia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not calling for anyone with travel plans to China to cancel them, but does recommend people avoid traveling to Hubei Province; the ministry will continue to monitor the situation and update its travel advisories as needed.
Editor: Aili Vahtla