A coronavirus outbreak at East Tallinn Central Hospital came as a complete surprise and the source of infection has not been identified, the hospital's chairman has said, although it is now under control.
Chairman of the Board of East Tallinn Central Hospital Ralf Allikvee told ERR on Monday, the virus has so far been diagnosed in 23 workers and nine patients. The outbreak has now been brought under control and the last positive tests given by staff were recorded last week, he said.
The outbreak started in the orthopaedics center and spread to other areas of the hospital, such as cardiology and neurology, although it has been contained in Building A on Ravi Street.
Allikvee said: "For us, it was a very unpleasant surprise, because we were ready in every way for COVID to come to us, but for it to come in this way, we could not have foreseen it even in our worst dreams."
It is not known who brought the virus into the hospital.
"No matter how we analyze it and our head of infectionists - Dr. Rõõm has over 40 years of experience and knows the speciality very well - we can't find out how it came about," he said.
Other issues have affected the hospital such as difficulties with ensuring isolation as the building is old and was built in 1938.
Allikvee said one of the difficulties hospitals face in Estonia is that members of staff work in different places and this cannot be suspended during the coronavirus pandemic because then many hospitals will not have enough staff to work normally. He said he cannot stop staff working in more than one hospital.
Everyone inside the hospital must wear a mask, all staff have been tested and those that tested positive must be retested. The orthopaedic center will be disinfected this week.
"We very much hope that our accident did not damage our reputation," Allikvee said.
The outbreak at the hospital is still being monitored, the Health Board said on Monday, and it is the biggest outbreak in the northern region as it has 33 patients.
On Tuesday (September 22) it was announced that 10 members of staff and four patients had tested positive for coronavirus at the hospital and work schedules would be reorganized.
On Monday, 34 new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in Estonia and the infection rate per 100,000 people as a two week average is 44.14 in Harju County.
Editor: Helen Wright