Experts differ on whether Estonia in COVID-19 second wave ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Irja Lutsar (left) and Krista Fischer of both the University of Tartu and the government's coronavirus scientific council.
Irja Lutsar (left) and Krista Fischer of both the University of Tartu and the government's coronavirus scientific council. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR/Tartu Ülikool

While the Health Board (Terviseamet) says that a significant coronavirus outbreak has hit Estonia, affecting a wide range of age groups, the government's scientific council, set up in spring, says it is too early to refer to it as a "second wave", adding that recent cases have mostly been found in young adults, daily Postimees reports.

The number of cases, which for a while nearly dissipated, is on the rise again and we have a large outbreak in our hands," Health Board Eike Kingsepp said.

However, Krista Fischer, a statistics professor at the University of Tartu and member of the scientific council said that calling it a second wave would be too hasty at this stage.

"We don't know whether this outbreak will abate, or proceed at an uncontrollable rate. In my view, however, it's too soon to call it a second wave," Fischer said.

Virologist Irja Lutsar, headof the scientific council, concurred, saying the recent spike, mostly propelled by an outbreak originating in a Tartu nightclub visited by a carrier who was awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, is in fact the aftershocks of the original wave which hit in March.

"This is a continuation of the first wave. The virus has not gone anywhere," she said, qualifying her words with the observation that the number of new infections has been on an upward trend in recent days.

Krista Fischer said that there was no cause for major concern, provided the virus does not spread to the elderly and other at-risk groups.

Vabank outbreak average age: 24

Most of the recently reported cases in Estonia have been among the young – the average age of those who contracted the virus at Vabank, the Tartu nightclub, is 24.

This reflects a recent World Health Organization (WHO) statement, with the difference being that the organization said it was precisely a spread among the young which would be the driving force in the next wave.

Eike Kingsepp at the Health Board noted that the spread of age groups in the latest upturn in infections is quite broad, with the youngest to contract the virus being 10, the oldest, 70.

However, Irja Lutsar said that between 82 and 85 percent of the recently infected are under 50.

None of this means the young do not suffer at all after contracting coronavirus, however, Krista Fischer of the scientific council said.

"A U.S. study showed that, unfortunately, young people can also struggle quite a bit with this virus, and that for one-fifth of these, the course of the disease proves lengthy, possibly spanning one month," she said.

A spread confined to younger demographics should not overburden hospitals, however, she said.

Whereas many days in the first three weeks of July saw zero, one or two new cases reported, since the last week of that month such figures have become the exception, with 11 reported on Tuesday, seven on Sunday and eight on Saturday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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