Health Board: Coronavirus cases rise to 369 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Health Board employee at the Port of Tallinn.
Health Board employee at the Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

On Tuesday morning, the total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Estonia rose to 369. The Estonian Medical Association is now calling for non-essential shops and dentists to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A total of 4,041 tests have been performed in Estonia, 317 tests were performed yesterday, the Health Board said.

Five of the 17 positive results came from Harju County, five from Võru, four from Saaremaa, one from Tartu, one from Viljandi and one lacking a personal identification code.

There is no significant rise in diagnosis in any age group.

On Monday ERR News reported that, when broken down by age group, positive cases in the under-20s accounted for less than 6 percent and those over 60 years of age for 17 percent. The majority of cases have been diagnosed in the 30-49 age category.

In total, 63 people over the age of 60 have been diagnosed with the disease. Older people are considered one of the biggest risk groups for contracting the disease.

Distribution of positive tests by age as of the morning of March 24. Source: Health Board.

Data from the Health Board can be viewed here (link in Estonian but English titles can be added if you click the drop-down menu above the first graph).

The latest information from the Health Board about coronavirus (COVID-19) in English can be found here.

Statement by the Estonian Medical Association

The Estonian Medical Association made a statement on Tuesday stressing that the coronavirus can be stopped from spreading further if everyone works together.

"We have no reason to expect that the pandemic would be any different in Estonia, so it makes sense to learn from the experiences of other countries," the statement said.

So far, the emergency situation has only lasted for about ten days but nobody knows how long this will continue. 

"Please stay at home, wash your hands, take care of the elderly and children, avoid meeting other people in the open air, and do not allow your children to gather on sports grounds and playgrounds," the doctors' statement said.

"As doctors, we work as best we can for our patients, and cooperation between the state and society at large helps us."

Doctors emphasized that restrictions on medical care and strict rules, such as not allowing birth partners to be present at a child's birth, have been well thought through and introduced following recommendations from specialists. 

They are an inconvenience, but do not harm patients and protect them and healthcare professionals, the association said.

The Estonian Medical Association also said that while most scheduled treatment is suspended and doctors are preparing for an increase in coronavirus patients, some private and dental practitioners, unfortunately, are continuing to treat patients. 

"This promotes the spread of the virus, as well using personal protective equipment, which should be kept by those health professionals who need to continue working," the association said.

"The health care system can withstand this if we can prevent an explosion in the number of patients [needing hospitalization] and the depletion of capacity for intensive care, as has unfortunately happened in Italy, for example. This requires a further reduction of people-to-people contacts to stop the infection."

The Estonian Medical Association proposed to that Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), who is in charge of the emergency situation, that he should suspend scheduled treatments and dental care in private clinics throughout the country, stop beauty services for operating, and to close shopping centers, shops and service facilities that are not deemed essential. 

Hand sanitization must be provided at the entrances of grocery stores and pharmacies and opening hours should be shortened, the association said.

"We wish everyone strength, responsibility and peace of mind. Be healthy!"

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Editor: Helen Wright

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