The recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Estonia have seen a 39 percent increase in infection rate over the last week, acting director of the Health Board (Terviseamet) Mari-Anne Härma said on Wednesday. However, since outbreaks are localized and the board is aware of 90 percent of the infected persons' close contacts, there is no reason for anxiety.
Speaking at a press conference, Härma said she sees no reason to worry since the spread has been local and one of the reasons why there have been more new cases in the country over the last week has been due to increased testing capacity.
The rate of infected people among daily tests analyzed still remains largely unchanged, between 1.1 and 1.3 percent. Härma derived from the data that there is no hidden spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
In total, 118 new cases have been recorded in the period of July 27 - August 9, with 62 in Tartu County. There are three active infection clusters of the virus currently, mainly related to the Vabank nightclub, Naiiv culture bar and Shooters bar, all in Tartu.
Infections per 100,000 persons in Estonia have reached 9.9 percent since the outbreak in Tartu first got started which is a little higher than the European average. Härma said there are approximately 130 active cases in the country according to these indicators.
Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) added he considers the current situation "satisfactory" because the darkest predictive scenarios regarding a second wave starting from Tartu have not realized.
Kiik instead is worried about what is happening outside of Estonia: "The trend has stabilized for now. What's happening in the world and Europe is much more worrying, as infection rates have increased by a lot."
He added that the current epidemiological situation will be discussed by government on Thursday but new nation-wide restrictions are most likely not on the table.
Härma said the recent outbreaks over the last three weeks are mostly due to public events in night clubs, parties and family events. There have also been a few cases where people are infected at their place of work, but these are not as prevalent.
She noted that a significant part of new cases is made up of cases where the virus has been brought in from foreign countries, referring to a cargo ship docked in Sillamäe at the start of August, which eventually left for Finland to quarantine there. Of the 21 crew members on board, 14 were diagnosed with COVID-19, with 11 added to the total number of cases on August 5, which saw a total of 22 new cases over 24 hours.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste