The Health Board (Terviseamet) has identified that three out of the six coronavirus patients that have died in West Tallinn Central Hospital (Lääne Tallinna Keskhaigla, LTKH) contracted the disease in the hospital.
Employees were first infected at the West Tallinn Central Hospital (Lääne Tallinna Keskhaigla) in mid-March. From March 24, however, the disease started to spread to patients admitted to the hospital. It is now known that 24 employees and 24 patients have been infected with the coronavirus in the hospital.
"Six people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in our hospital, three of them were probably infected in the hospital. Their age was over 80, over 90, and they all had acute underlying illnesses," Head of the Board at the West Tallinn Central Hospital Dr. Imbi Moks said.
The first outbreak started after a patient, who complained about a fever that had lasted for several months, showed up for examinations at the hospital. At first the patient's coronavirus test came back negative, but a retest performed a few days later was positive. Later, outbreaks occurred in urology, internal medicine, neurology and surgery departments.
According to the Health Board (Terviseamet), the infection has not spread to West Tallinn Central Hospital Pelgulinna Maternity Center or to its nursing care clinic located in Õismäe.
As of now, the hospital's surgery department is quarantined, its employees sent home for at least 14 days and depending on their condition, patients directed to home care or to a specialised coronavirus ward.
Moks said that at the beginning of the emergency situation, no hospital had an adequate supply of personal protective equipment that would have made using them possible everywhere.
"We used the equipment sparingly and in areas where coronavirus patients were located. But there wasn't a shortage," Moks commented.
On Wednesday, the Health Board did not permit the start of scheduled treatment at the hospital due to the in-hospital spread of the coronavirus. The Health Board has also started monitoring the use of self-protective equipment
"When the first case arose at the hospital, they reacted swiftly - the department was quarantined, infected employees were sent home, infected patients isolated. It is worrying that there have been more cases," Head of the Health Board's regional department North Ester Öpik said.
She added that single cases occur in hospitals and medical institutions are in general able to localize the problem themselves. "If we see that more cases will arise, we have to cooperate with the hospital to put an end to it. We might have to think about better use of personal protective equipment, maybe personnel is being cross-used between different departments or maybe there are other factors yet unnoticed," Öpik said.
Editor: Anders Nõmm