Easing of quarantine rules contributing to shorter COVID-19 hospital stays

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Ida-Tallinna Keskhaigla, one of the hospitals to have seen coronavirus outbreaks among patients and staff. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Changing coronavirus restrictions and quarantine requirements and patients suffering from milder episodes of the coronavirus are behind falling lengths in hospitalization stays, ERR's online news in Estonian finds. Hospitals are sometimes turning patients away who have tested positive for the virus, meaning their case gets recorded in the general figures and not in those relating to hospitals.

The average hospital stay due to the virus has been only two to three days on average, compared with around two weeks in autumn, or as long as a month during the late spring and summer.

This is partly due to a change in hospital's methodologies, particularly allowing patients to return home before getting second COVID-19 test and a more lenient quarantine regime (quarantine periods are now 10 days compared with the 14 days earlier – ed.).

Patients seeing out their recovery periods at home

Hospital patients are now being discharged when recovered and isolating at home under a family doctor's supervision.

Those who contract COVID-19 and are then hospitalized for some other cause are now often not admitted, which means their statistics do not appear in the hospital's positive cases but rather then Health Board's figures for the general populace as a whole, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

At the same time, patients globally are suffering with a milder form of the virus than in spring, Dr. Arkadi Popov, head of the Health Board's (Terviseamet) emergency medicine department, says.

Health board doctor: Intensive care rates globally falling

Popov said: "This can be seen all over the world – the need for hospital treatment is relatively high, but the need for intensive care has fallen."

Treatments usually used to in rheumatism, asthma and allergies, and non-invasive oxygen therapy, are also helping with recovery rates, Popov added.

Mortality rates are not affected by these newer treatments although, Popov says, even during the peak of the spring coronavirus wave – at a time when there were fewer than 136 people in hospital, 36 of whom required intensive care – this was only 18 percent, compared with rates of around a 50 percent in some parts of the world.

The average age of patients hospitalized with the virus is still high at 68-70, Popov said, but in general some patients require greater care than others, and hospitals are still discussing how to triage those needing care, some of them being transferred to smaller hospitals after active treatment.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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