Narva doctors warn stricter COVID-19 measures needed to avoid meltdown

Narva Hospital.
Narva Hospital. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Doctors in Ida-Viru County, one of the worst hit regions of the country by the COVID-19, have asked for more stringent restrictions, despite the county already having tougher regulations than the rest of Estonia.

Around one percent of the overall population of Narva, which lies on the border with the Russian Federation, currently has the coronavirus, according to Health Board (Terviseamet) data. The town, population around 55,000, has one hospital.

Medics at Narva Hospital told Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) in person Friday morning that no lock-down and combating the viral spread were no longer mutually exclusive; Ratas himself had to cut his visit to Ida-Viru County short, after receiving notification Friday that he had been in close contact earlier in the week with an individual who later tested COVID-19-positive.

The county's hospitals are also seeing severe pressure both on bed spaces and staff numbers.

Chief doctor at Narva Hospital Pille Letjuka told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Friday evening that: "Movement restrictions should be made significantly stricter, just for a certain period of time, for now. We shouldn't be left to smoulder for two or three months, by which time the healthcare system nationwide may find itself in such difficulty that even emergency care may have to be restricted."

At present, while medical emergencies are still being treated as before, scheduled in-patient treatments are subject to postponements, as they had been during the spring wave.

While sporting and leisure activities in Ida-Viru County are restricted mainly to one-to-one tuition, as opposed to groups of up to 10 in the rest of Estonia, the prime minister said that other restrictions such as full closure of bars, pubs and nightclubs, or of spa centers, was not needed as of yet.

Ratas told AK that: "We have managed to retain in Estonia, thanks to our people and how they behave, a life rather close to what is normal and usual. But it is becoming increasingly clear that a limit lies somewhere, and when further resolute restrictions have to be introduced, the government will be sure to do so."

Since extra-curricular activities in schools, or schools and organizations devoted purely to such activities, ended over a month ago, the latest restriction noted above and which comes into effect today, Saturday, is something of a moot point, AK reported.

Ida-Viru County currently sees around 1,000 coronavirus cases, out of a population of around 136,000, with half of the cases coming in the border town of Narva (population 55,000).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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