Health Board: 27 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Estonia
As of Thursday night, 27 cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have been laboratory-confirmed and a local spread of the virus has been identified, the Health Board said.
Ester Öpik, head of the Northern Regional Department of the Health Board, said the Health Board has raised the risk level and a local spread of the virus has been identified.
"While in the past the goal was to identify new cases and identify those who have been in contact with them. Today our approach is changing with a new strategy - we are focusing primarily on limiting the spread of the disease, and in severe cases, treating those infected, and that means that we are focusing more on isolated cases," Öpik told ETV's evening news show "Aktuaalne Kaamera".
"Certainly the focus is on those places (Tallinn, Saaremaa, Võrumaa) and the people who get the diagnosis, but the focus is no longer on widespread contact identification," she said.
Öpik said the risk groups for the virus are already known - the elderly - and because of this they are the main focus of protection.
So far, there has not been a queue for testing, and those who have needed a test have been tested, Öpik said, adding that protecting health professionals is also a priority right now.
Öpik said all counties have shown their readiness to act and that ambulance crews can cope. "The bigger hospitals will definitely support the smaller ones," she said.
On Wednesday, four new positive tests were announced by the Health Board taking the total on Thursday morning to 17. They were detected in Tallinn, Tartu and Saaremaa. On Thursday evening 10 new cases were announced taking the total in Estonia to 27.
On Thursday evening the government announced an emergency situation*. All schools will close from Monday, March 16 and additional border controls will be introduced. It is likely the measures will stay in place until May 1 and will be reviewed every two weeks.
The first case of coronavirus was diagnosed on February 27.
The main symptoms of the coronavirus disease are a fever, dry cough and fatigue, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. At present, approximately 80 percent of cases (including cases of pneumonia) have been reported as mild to moderate.
Approximately 14 percent of cases were serious cases and six percent were critical.
Information about the coronavirus in Estonia can be found on the English language page of the Health Board.
Emergency situation vs. state of emergency
* An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated the Estonian government had declared a state of emergency in connection with the novel coronavirus outbreak. This article has since been updated to accurately reflect that the government instead declared an emergency situation.
Under Estonian law, a state of emergency ("erakorraline seisukord") is only declared in case of a threat to the constitutional order of Estonia and it is not possible to eliminate a threat without the implementation of the measures provided for in the State of Emergency Act. Under the Emergency Act, the Estonian government may declare an emergency situation ("eriolukord") for the resolving of an emergency caused by a natural disaster, catastrophe or spread of a communicable disease.
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Editor: Helen Wright