Third of hospitalized patients aged over 70 are care home residents

A COVID-19 drive-in testing center in Ida-Viru County.
A COVID-19 drive-in testing center in Ida-Viru County. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Estonia's epidemiological situation has stabilized at a high infection indicator and number of hospitalized patients. The infection rate number - R - stands just under one for now, but rushing ahead with easing restrictions could lead to a worsened situation, the Health Board said of the previous week's COVID-19 situation in Estonia.

While the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Estonia has stabilized, there is still a considerable number of collective infections in workplaces and care homes. There are also a total of 15 outbreaks in schools and kindergartens, up seven from the previous week.

119 schools are affected by the coronavirus in some way with a total of 241 people infected. The share of students to teachers can be considered equal. In addition, the virus has infiltrated 53 kindergartens and 12 care homes, with 286 residents and 43 employees infected for the latter, an increase over the previous week.

3.2 percent of infections have been brought in with cases mainly coming from Finland, Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ukraine. A total 11 cases have been brought in via travel from UAE, all separate cases where people went on vacation during the school break.

41 percent of all infected people aged 70 and up received the infection from a care home. In the same vein, every third hospitalized patient aged 70 and up in Estonia is a care home resident. The average age of hospitalized patients over the last week was 70.5.

"The situation has stabilized," said Health Board deputy director general Mari-Anne Härma at a press conference on Wednesday.

82 Estonian care homes (of 192 total) are now vaccinated. In addition, 10 special care homes and four community service institutions have been vaccinated completely.

Over the last week, 47 people lost their lives due to the coronavirus with the average age being 81 years old. All of the deceased had underlying medical issues.

"There is no stabilization or drop in the number of deaths, deaths are still in a growing trend," Härma noted. "Estonia's infection has stabilized at a very high rate."

She added that the situation has stabilized in Harju and Ida-Viru counties, but infection rates are growing in other parts of Estonia, especially in the south.

"There are more infections in schools, it can increase the number of infections going forward. The number of hospitalizations has stabilized at a high number," Härma said.

For the first time, Estonia saw a tendency of excess mortality over the previous seven days, as of Wednesday. Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) noted that the infection rate per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days was highest on January 10, after which it has been in a slow decrease.

The R number, an indicator that shows the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person. An R number of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable. 

The indicator for Estonia, as of Wednesday, was 0.95, a balancing point that is easy enough to increase if restrictions are eased too hastily, which is why restrictions must be removed carefully in order to avoid a third wave, as has happened in many other countries, Kiik commented.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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