Tallinn coronavirus rates increasing while rest of country seeing fall

Tallinn skyline. The capital's rate of coronavirus new cases is rising, counter to the situation in the rest of the country.
Tallinn skyline. The capital's rate of coronavirus new cases is rising, counter to the situation in the rest of the country. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While the rate of new coronavirus cases in most of Estonia is slowing down, the capital, Tallinn, is bucking the trend.

Doctor Arkadi Popov, head of emergency medicine at the Health Board (Terviseamet), confirmed the trend at a press conference Friday adding that most growth was in both familial and workplace existing hotspots.

"Most of these are being added in families where coronavirus patients had already been identified, and in companies where such outbreaks had already occurred," Dr. Popov said.

About 20 percent of new infections have an unknown source, Dr. Popov said, making risk of infection and ever-present risk when moving about in the capital, which is subject to the same restrictions as the rest of the country.

Tallinn has the second highest infection rate in Estonia, after Saare County which has been the epicenter of the country's COVID-19 outbtreak for the last month.

Harju County, which includes Tallinn, has a positive case rate of 9.38 per 10,000 people whereas Saare County's is 161.89 per 10,000.

This week new diagnoses in Saare County have been half that of Harju County, with the capital registering 35 and Saaremaa 17, as of Friday.

Last Friday, the Health Board said 73.2 per cent of those who tested positive in Harju County are from Tallinn and 26.8 per cent from the rest of the region.


Dr. Popov: Pay me now or pay me later approach on continued restrictions

Dr Arkadi Popov said that if people were to remain at home as much as possible for the next couple of weeks, this could make a difference later on. Failing to do so, on the other hand, could prolong the situation.

"If we stay home today, we may have significantly more freedoms three weeks from now," Popov said.

This week has been school spring break, but playgrounds and sports facilities remain closed to the public, partly because they often require parental accompaniment, which can increase infection risk.

The original press conference featuring Dr. Arkadi Popov (in Estonian) is here.

Police chief: Up to 900 emergency restriction violations in Estonia so far

Chief of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Elmar Vaher says his organization has received between 800 and 900 reports of emergency situation violations since the government declared it on March 12, nationwide.

Most of these involve violating the so-called 2+2 rule (maximum two people to congregate in public, families excepted; minimum two meters distance from other members of the public at all times).

"Friends gather in front of stairwells and have a drink together," Vaher said, citing a common example.

Of these callouts, the PPA has issued 464 precepts, imposed penalties 50 times, and initiated 126 proceedings, regarding violations of the 2 + 2 rule.

PPA chief Elmar Vaher also noted that the incidence of drink driving had seen an uptick during the emergency situation – a total of 17, compared with 10 over the same period this time last year, and even with a third less traffic on the roads than normal, due to the restrictions. Vaher also noted that road traffic accidents as a whole had fallen, by 25 percent.

The rate on Hiiu County per 10,000 has overtaken Harju County at 12.78. Three other significantly affected regions are Võru County, one of the first to see cases, at 22.92 per 10,000, Pärnu County (11.05 per 10,000) and Ida-Viru County (7.34 per 10,000).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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