A record number of 125 new cases of COVID-19 has been reported in the past 24 hours, the Health Board said on Wednesday, at a time when rates are soaring across Europe. Estonia's rate is still among the lowest in Europe, however.
The previous highest figure of 93 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours was recorded on April 2.
No deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours.
Estonia's 14-day COVID-19 rate per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 48.46, up from 42.06 yesterday.
A total of 1,987 primary coronavirus tests were performed in the past 24 hours, giving a positive rate of 6.29 percent – compared with 2.30 percent the previous day.
Forty-eight of the new cases were recorded in Harju County, 29 in Rapla County, 19 in Ida-Viru County, seven in Pärnu County, five in Tartu County, five in Jõgeva County, and one each in Saare, Võru, Viljandi, Valga and Lääne counties, meaning only four counties: Hiiu, Järva, Lääne-Viru and Põlva did not receive any new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
Seven more cases did not have a recorded address in the population registry, which the Health Board says usually indicates that the individuals are foreign nationals.
Rates in Harju County, the most populous region of the country, have been rising steeply since the end of summer. The latest outbreak in Rapla County means more cases are expected in the coming days.
Forty-one of the new cases from Harju County were in Tallinn. Five of those new cases were close contacts of individuals who had already fallen ill. One new case was brought in from Sweden. The circumstances surrounding the remaining cases are still being investigated. All twenty-nine new cases from Rapla County are connected to an outbreak at a care home.
The Health Board (Terviseamet) is divided into four regions, northern, eastern, southern and western, with the first two of these being the hardest-hit at present.
The northern regional department is monitoring over 2,100 people, of whom 413 have fallen ill.
There are 11 different localized outbreaks in total within the northern regional department's area of operations, most of them relating to workplaces and schools, which the board denotes in ordinal numbers:
- Forty-two cases relate to the first workplace outbreak.
- The second and third workplace outbreaks have eight cases each.
- A fourth workplace outbreak involves ten cases.
- The fifth workplace outbreak concerns six individuals.
- A sixth workplace outbreak involves five individuals.
- The first school outbreak involves six cases.
- A second outbreak in a school has five cases related to it at present.
- An outbreak within a family circle includes five individuals.
- A so-called party outbreak has affected seventeen individuals.
- A care home outbreak involves thirty-two cases.
The Health Board's eastern regional department is monitoring almost 700 people, of whom 132 have fallen ill.
Five of the new cases from Ida-Viru County are connected to becoming infected within a detention facility, while six further cases were infected via their family members or acquaintances, four individuals were infected via work-related contacts, plus one individual at a kindergarten, and one at school.
One further case was brought in from Russia and the circumstances surrounding the remaining case are still being investigated.
The eastern region has also identified 11 localized outbreaks, which are:
- Eleven cases are connected to an outbreak at a school in Kohtla-Järve.
- An outbreak within a circle of family members and acquaintances in Ida-Viru County involves eight cases.
- Nine cases are connected to an outbreak at a school in Jõhvi,
- Twenty-one cases to the care home outbreak in Jõhvi.
- The first school outbreak in Sillamäe involves 36 individuals.
- An outbreak at another Sillamäe school involves nine cases.
- An entertainment establishment outbreak in Sillamäe involves ten cases.
- A Narva workplace involves seven cases.
- A kindergarten outbreak in Narva involves six cases.
- A Narva-Jõesuu workplace outbreak involves nine individuals.
- A new prison outbreak involves five cases.
The Health Board's southern regional department is monitoring over 300 people, of whom 47 have fallen ill. One outbreak epicenter has been identified, in Jõgeva County.
Three of the new cases from Jõgeva County were close contacts of individuals who had already fallen ill while the circumstances surrounding one further case are still being investigated.
One case was handed over to the northern regional department, as it involves an individual who actually lives in Harju County according to population registry data.
The circumstances surrounding the new cases from Valga County and Võru County are still being investigated.
The new case from Viljandi County was infected via a work-related contact.
Two of the new cases from Tartu County were brought in from Russia, while the circumstances surrounding two further cases are still being investigated.
One case was handed over to the northern regional department as it involves an individual who actually lives in Harju County.
The southern regional department is monitoring one outbreak which started in a workplace in Jõgeva County and which involves twenty individuals.
The western regional department is monitoring over 180 people, of whom thirty-eight have fallen ill.
Three of the new cases from Pärnu County were brought in from Ukraine and one further case was from France. Two individuals were infected via their acquaintances or family contacts, and one individual via a work-related contact.
Based on data in the population register, the new cases from Saare County and Lääne County were handed over to the northern regional department as they involve individuals who actually live in Harju County.
The graph above shows that the data for March 25 is higher than today's number, but this is considered to be two day's worth of data. On March 25 the data collection and reporting methods of the Health Board changed.
Rapla County care home outbreak
Over 30 cases in Rapla County have been found at a care home so far, with more testing taking place.
Local daily Raplamaa Sõnumid says (link in Estonian) that the outbreak affects both residents and staff, with testing starting Monday after two employees had contracted the virus.
Currently 19 residents and 13 staff have tested positive, the paper said.
The care home is municipal-run and operates both round-the-clock care for the elderly and day-care, crisis services for mothers and their children, rehab care and a daily soup kitchen, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
Health Board Deputy Director: Rise in percentage of positive test results a concern
Workplaces and schools have been the epicenter of outbreaks, often sparked by infected individuals not self-quarantining, with cases brough in from outside the country starting to rise too, the Health Board says.
The situation does not look set to improve, Mari-Anne Härma, Health Board Deputy Director General says.
She said: "There is currently little hope for improvement. We need to get ready - the summer is over and the [regular flu] virus season is upon us. We've observed a growing share of asymptomatic virus carriers. Close to a quarter [of cases] are asymptomatic. If you suspect you've come into contact [with an infected person], please monitor even just the smallest symptoms, such as headache and sore throat."
"I don't currently have the information on what all these cases are linked to," Härma said Wednesday. "We know that over 30 cases were discovered in the course of testing at a care home in Rapla County. We'll have more information today.
"What raises some concern is the upward trend in the share of positive test results," Harma said, adding that if the share continues growing, there is a risk of a hidden spread of the virus among the populace.
"If there is even a slight chance that you have contracted the infection, please go to your doctor," she said.
Harma also said that the number of cases being brought in from outside Estonia had risen to 70 this week, including among 22 footballers, noting that rates are rapidly rising in most neighboring countries.
She said: "Estonia's infection rate is low compared to some other Baltic and Nordic states. The number of cases is growing sharply in Latvia and Lithuania, Sweden and Denmark are likewise seeing an upward trend, the same goes for Russia."
Nearly 25 percent of those who tested positive last week were asymptomatic, the Health Board said.
Testing, hospitalization and recovery
As of the morning of 28 October, a total of 32 COVID-19 patients in Estonia are being treated in hospital, with one patient on a ventilator.
Five new patients were discharged from hospital. Two new COVID-19 cases were opened.
As of October 28, hospitals nationwide have closed a total of 543 cases relating to COVID-19 which involved 529 people (some individuals have more than one case appended to them, hence the discrepancy).
A total of 3,626 people have recovered from COVID-19. The cases of 2,660 people have been closed (73.4 percent of the total) and 966 people (26.6 percent) have met the triple criteria of 28 days having passed since they tested positive, not being treated in hospital in relation to the coronavirus and not awaiting confirmation of their recovery.
There are an estimated 644 active cases in Estonia at present, and 73 deaths have been recorded connected with the virus, the last on October 19.
A total of 256,522 primary coronavirus tests have been conducted since the end of January, with 4,590 of these returning positive, giving a rate of 1.79 percent.
More detailed information can also be found on the koroonakaart site here.
How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?
- The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
- In crowded places and especially indoors where it is not possible to keep your distance from other people, it is advisable to wear a mask.
- Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
- Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
- When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue.
- Anyone who becomes ill should stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
- People who develop any symptoms should contact their family physician.
You can also download Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' which will alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.
Editor: Andrew Whyte