The main hospital in the southwestern Estonian town of Pärnu has raised its coronavirus alert level to stage three (A3). As with hospitals in Tallinn, this requires a freeing up of bed places of those in intensive care with COVID-19 and a concurrent reduction in the availability of scheduled treatments.
The switch up was ordered by the Health Board (Terviseamet) rather than being the hospital's own unilateral decision; Pärnu Hospital's medical director Veiko Vahula said that the institution must be capable of admitting 43 coronavirus patients while simultaneously being able to treat 10 patients suffering from other infectious diseases.
Vahula said: "This can only be done at the expense of bed spaces in other departments, which means that planned treatment in most departments of the hospital must be reduced and bed places re-profiled."
This has seen a reduction in volume of 50 percent in internal medicine and rehabilitation admissions, while higher-tech in-patient treatment such as surgery and invasive cardiology remain at the same capacity for now.
Specialized outpatient care levels have also so far been unaffected.
A highest-level (level three) intensive care capabilities must additionally be in place for three patients at any one time, and isolation capabilities must also be installed.
Level A3 preparedness does not prompt total suspension of planned treatment, but rather a dialing down in various departments, he went on, a process which would be taken further if the Health Board ordered the hospital go on A4 alert levels.
He said: "If the hospital is to switch to preparedness level A4, the volume of planned treatment will be reduced even further."
Pärnu County currently has a coronavirus rate of 42.47 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and a little over 100 active cases. The corresponding figures for the (much more heavily populated) Harju County are 94.66 and around 2,300 respectively.
Editor: Andrew Whyte