First healthcare worker dies after contracting coronavirus

Kuressaare Hospital with the Defense Force's field hospital and coronavirus testing tents outside.
Kuressaare Hospital with the Defense Force's field hospital and coronavirus testing tents outside. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

The first healthcare worker has died in Estonia after contracting coronavirus (COVID-19). The woman was 53 years old and worked as a careworker at Kuressaare Hospital in Saaremaa.

The woman died on Tuesday night, Arkadi Popov, the medical chief of the Health Board's emergency unit, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, these things happen when we have to fight an epidemic. No matter how difficult it is, we have to move on and fight and continue to treat patients," Popov said.

Popov said that according to the Health Board's data, 102 health care workers have fallen ill across Estonia. Speaking about the number of medical staff, Popov said that quite a lot of people responded to the call for volunteers to go to Saaremaa, and now all shifts are covered both in Kuressaare Hospital and in the military field hospital.

Results from testing frontline staff show a low prevalence of the disease, which Popov said was a good thing. "Most health professionals are [testing] negative, they are not sick. Infection control in hospitals is working effectively and the measures are effective," he said.

A post on the hospital's Facebook page expressed condolences to the woman's family.

It said: "We note with sadness that a 53-year-old careworker from Kuressaare Hospital died as a result of COVID-19 infection yesterday. This is the first healthcare worker to die due to the coronavirus in Estonia. More importantly, however, she was someone's mother, grandmother and a dear person who is mourned by many people. Kuressaare Hospital expresses its deepest condolences to the family at this difficult time."

A total of 24 people have died in Estonia due to COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning. The woman was one of the three deaths reported by the Health Board on Wednesday morning. 

Prime Minister Juri Ratas also extended his condolences to the next of kin.

"Her passing is a loss for all of us, because as a hospital worker, she made an effort every day to take care of the lives and health of others," he said.

Ratas said that altogether 102 health care workers across Estonia have contracted coronavirus so far.

"They have been at the forefront of the fight against the virus in their daily work and have put themselves at risk on behalf of us all. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart and wish them strong health and a speedy recovery," the prime minister said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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