Considering the current coronavirus infection rate in Estonia, the number of people hospitalized could equal the peak in spring next week.
"We know that 29 percent of people who were diagnosed [with COVID-19] were hospitalized the week before last that allows us to put the figure for last week at roughly 75," Mari-Anne Härma, deputy director of the Health Board, said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Currently, 99 patients are being treated in hospitals, while the spring high saw 153 people receive hospital treatment for the coronavirus.
"We are nearing the spring record of 153 people hospitalized which level we should reach next week if recent trends hold," Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said at the press conference.
Statistics presented by Härma suggests that last week brought 1,600 new cases of COVID-19, with the Health Board monitoring 2,400 patients and over 16,000 close contacts of those infected.
Last week brought an increase in the number of cases of 32 percent compared to the week before last, down from 69, 79 and 95 percent in weeks past.
"We can say right now that the increase in new cases has slowed down. However, we cannot hope that will remain the case as we are moving closer to the holidays. It is too early to draw far-reaching conclusions," Härma said.
The holidays should be celebrated differently this year
Both Härma and Kiik stressed that Christmas should be celebrated more modestly, with parties limited to close relatives and major public gatherings avoided.
Härma said that the relative importance of young people infected with COVID-19 is growing and basic and high school children coming down with the coronavirus means their parents in the 30-59 years age group are soon to follow. "Because young people are more often asymptomatic, the risk of the virus moving beyond Tallinn and Harju County and reaching elderly people as kids travel to the countryside for the holidays grows."
"People should think their Christmas activities through today," Härma added.
Social Minister Tanel Kiik echoed the warning and urged people to avoid crowded Christmas markets. "We do not need people being infected while out Christmas shopping," he said.
The social minister described as a welcome change the fact more people are wearing masks and said once again that the government will not require people who have trouble with their eyesight or hearing to wear them.
Talking about survey results from Tuesday that suggest Estonia could have around 5,000 people with COVID-19 in all, Kiik said it shows Estonia has opted for the right testing strategy as around 3,000 people have been diagnosed.
Mari-Anne Härma said that roughly 5,000 coronavirus tests are administered daily which level the state plans to maintain until the end of the pandemic if necessary.
Editor: Marcus Turovski