Health Board: Hospitals prepared for unexpected increase in COVID patients

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Coronavirus restriction signs at East Tallinn Central Hospital. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The number of patients being treated in hospitals across Estonia has stabilized at around 400 in recent weeks, but hospitals have also prepared in case there is an unexpected increase in the coming weeks, the Health Board has said.

Emergency medical manager at the Health Board Urmas Sule said while the overall number of patients has remained stable for several weeks, changes have taken place regionally and there are now more coronavirus patients in hospitals in the south than in the north.

"I hope that this number will not change significantly, but we are not able to describe a general trend at the moment. Indeed, the number of deaths has increased a bit recently, which is also logical for this disease," Sule told ERR.

He said hospitals are still prepared for an unexpected wave of cases, for example, if the virus mutates as it has done in other countries, such as the United Kingdom. 

"Of course there is no knowledge of how this can affect us. We are ready, hospitals have an expectation and a readiness that the situation may get better or worse given the need for hospital treatment and we will deal with it," he said.

On Friday, scientists at the University of Tartu said neither the UK nor the South African strain of COVID-19, which are thought to be more infectious, have been found in Estonia.

Sule also said it is very important that all health care workers are vaccinated because if COVID-19 spreads among hospital workers this leads to staff shortages. It could also cause some departments to close, as was seen at Narva Hospital before Christmas.

"If our health care workers can do their jobs every day without fear of getting sick, it will definitely increase health care capacity," he said. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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