A former Health Board (Terviseamet) chief says that the number of coronavirus deaths in Estonia stands at 17, not the 64 officially recorded.
Mari-Anne Härma, who temporarily filled the post after Merike Jürilo stepped down in June, says that this figure of 17 covers those who died due to COVID-19 alone, with the remainder having co-morbidities listed in their causes of death, alongside the virus.
"According to data in my possession, there are 17 persons whose causes of death did not mention co-morbidities," Härma said, in an interview with daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) (link in Estonian).
Whereas other countries separate the two groups – those who died from the virus alone versus those with co-morbidities – in their official data, Estonia does not, Härma said.
Lithuania, for instance, reports 92 official deaths from COVID-19 plus 19 who had had co-morbidities.
Mari-Anne Härma was acting Health Board chief for three months, from July to September. Merike Jürilo resigned in mid-June following differences with government members.
Härma's full-term replacement, Üllar Lanno, was appointed earlier in the month, and his first official day at work is in fact today, Thursday.
Härma also told EPL that contracting the coronavirus in the fall was preferable, from an immunity perspective, than catching it in spring – the reason being that an individual will have a stronger immune system after summer, when she said they would have spent time outdoors, walking, or engaging in other exercise.
"In the winter, we sometimes have to fight six or seven different viruses at a time, and the immune system inevitably weakens. And if COVID-19 is added to that, we find it even tougher because our resources are depleted," she said.
This also explained the lower overall figures at present, when compared with spring, despite the general trend for rising numbers of cases.
Editor: Andrew Whyte