Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Estonia rises to 171

Health Board infections laboratory, where coronavirus tests are conducted.
Health Board infections laboratory, where coronavirus tests are conducted. Source: Government Office.

The number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Estonia stood at 171 on Sunday evening, the Health Board (Terviseamet) said, up from 135 in the morning.

All but two of those infected are recovering at home, the Health Board says. The remaining two, both on the island of Saaremaa, are in hospital, in a satisfactory condition in an isolated ward, Ragnar Vaiknemets of the Health Board said.

Vaiknemets added that the peak of confirmed cases had not yet been reached and more diagnoses are coming.

The Health Board is also no longer testing younger people for the virus, but rather those who are more at risk, meaning those 60 and over. This is both to focus on those who are most vulnerable, and to keep afloat vital services for other emergencies, as well as to prevent ordinary life being disrupted further, the board says.

The mean age of cases so far is over 40, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

"The more we test, the more cases will come out," Vaiknemets went on, adding that the capacity for the number of tests per day – currently about 100 – is rising.

About 100 tests were conducted on Saturday, 20 of which came back positive, the board says.

At present, COVID-19 virus detection facilities are available at Health Board labs, the University of Tartu, Synland, the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH), the Ida-Viru Central Hospital, and Pärnu Hospital.

Under the emergency situation instigated by the government on Thursday night, health care institutions can also postpone planned treatment in non-critical cases to focus on those most affected by the virus.

Further raising public awareness is also a goal, the board said.

Coronavirus cases in Estonia, March 15. The statistics show the position of the testing laboratory rather than place of residence. Source: ERR

Health Board: Risk areas no longer appropriate

Since the virus has spread now to every EU member state, it is no longer appropriate to categorize countries by risk. There is a high risk of infection in all crowded locations, the board says, and therefore recommends the avoidance of travel or crowded locations.

Those arriving from abroad or who have had known contact with a coronavirus carrier are required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, monitoring their health at the same time.

Those exhibiting symptoms who are recovering at home should alleviate symptoms with over-the-counter medicines for fever, coughing etc. but in cases of severe breathing difficulties or shortness of breath, they should call the emergency number: 112.

Those with symptoms should not go to a hospital ER themselves, or even to a family doctor, as that could run the risk of spreading the virus to others.

The board is also no longer monitoring individual cases due to the continued person-to-person spread of coronavirus.

Where possible, working people should work from home remotely; foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said Saturday that employers had no legal right to penalize employees who did not come to work in the wake of the viruses' spread.

Those over 60 should avoid crowded places, including stores and supermarkets, and remain home.

All people should follow strict hygiene regimens including regular hand-washing, covering any coughing or sneezing, avoiding close contact with others (including shaking hands or hugging).

Late last week, the government ordered all gatherings of more than 100 people to be cancelled, including cultural and sporting events, and most churches have closed their doors for public worship.

Gyms, spas, sports centers and similar are closed, as are many cinemas and some bars.

Estonia's borders will be closed to foreign nationals from Tuesday, though exit from the country is still possible.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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