No new COVID-19 cases found Sunday, two found over entire weekend

Health Board building on Paldiski mnt in Tallinn.
Health Board building on Paldiski mnt in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

A total of two new COVID-19 cases were detected in Estonia over the weekend, both of them on Saturday. There were no new cases found on Sunday, the Health Board (Terviseamet) says.

Acting Health Board chief Mari-Anne Härma told ERR radio show "Vikerhommik" Monday morning that the rate of new cases of coronavirus is now very small, with the midsummer break and changes in travel restrictions, mostly involving the opening up of quarantine-free entry into Estonia to travelers from countries previously requiring it, not having any noticeable effect on rates.

"The long-term downward trend has not changed, and midsummer has not provided any aftermath, so now there is reason to be calm," said Härma.

Can't pinpoint exactly why Estonia's virus rate not rising

As to why Estonia is bucking the global trend for an increase in coronavirus infections, Härma, who recently became acting head as both the board's chief, Merike Jürilo, and her second-in-command, Martin Kadia, have stepped down, said this was hard to explain.

The capacity of health care systems in different countries, as well as differences in social habits, have been cited, she said, but there is also talk of the demographic situation, especially a higher proportion of older people.

Nonetheless, Estonia is ready for any potential second wave in the fall, so far as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stocks go, Härma said.

"The warehouses are full and ready. We are looking for places to store PPE sensibly and how to move it quickly from there," she said.

From the beginning of this month, the Health Board has been publishing COVID-19 statistics and analysis of the epidemiological situation once a week, on Wednesdays, rather than on a daily basis as it had been before.

Daily press releases will be issued if five or more new cases of the virus are detected in a 24-hour period, though the actual figures are updated at aroun 10.30 every day, both on the Health Board's site and on Koroonakaart.

Three people in hospital with virus

Last Wednesday, 1,989 people had tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of January; as of Sunday this figure had risen to just 1,993.

As of Saturday, three people required treatment in hospital as a result of the virus or its complications.

69 people have died from causes related to coronavirus, the last was reported over a month ago, on June 2.

As reported on ERR News, Saturday's two cases were found in Tartu County and Narva County, from 266 tests conducted.

There are an estimated 12 active cases of coronavirus in Estonia, in other words carriers still suffering symptoms who have not met one of two criteria: a) Having had their case closed by a hospital or b) are not hospitalized due to the virus and tested positive more than 28 days ago.

Härma: I don't have experience to go full-time as Health Board boss

As to the future, Härma said she did not intend to run for the post as head of the Health Board, saying she did not have sufficient experience – something she said she will have attained around five years from now.

Härma became head of the Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control in January this year, on the eve of the global coronavirus outbreak.

Merike Jürilo announced her resignation on June 18, the day after social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center), up to that point a public supporter of hers, criticized the board. Other government ministers, including the prime minister himself, had hit out at the board's handling of the pandemic, as early on as in April. Martin Kadai announced his resignation on July 1, saying he needed a break, though his departure has been linked in the media with that of Jürilo. Both Jürilo and Kadai no longer work at the Health Board as of Monday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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