Care home and healthcare institution outbreaks total over 1,500 people

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Oru care home in September 2020.
Oru care home in September 2020. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

While people generally tend to get infected with the coronavirus through family or the workplace, the largest outbreaks in Estonia are among care homes and hospitals as the virus can spread rapidly.

As of Monday morning, the number of cases for every 100,000 people in the last 14 days is still highest in Ida-Viru County with 824.5 people, followed by Saare County with at 761.7 as a result of a high number of new cases over the weekend. Those two are followed by Järva County at 709.2 per 100,000, followed by Rapla County at 673 and Harju County at 665.8 per 100,000 people. The next two counties are Pärnu County (619.6 per 100,000) and Jõgeva County (601.2). The remaining counties' relative indicator does not exceed 600.

The local municipality with the highest infection rate per 100,000 people is Maardu city, standing at 2,072 people. Maardu is followed by Lääneranna municipality (1,717), Järva municipality (1,455), Kihnu municipality (1,449), Setomaa municipality (1,260), Saaremaa municipality (1,044) and Sillamäe city (1,042). The remaining 82 municipalities go not exceed 1,000 people per 100,000 and two municipalities - Ruhnu and Vormsi - do not have a single infected person. Currently, 31 local municipalities exceed the Estonian average of 623 infected people per 100,000 people.

Close to half of the known infection sources come from within the family, the Health Board said on Friday. Infections at the workplace are also common (641 infected people among active outbreaks). The largest number of patients in outbreaks are at care homes and healthcare establishments, totaling 1,543 patients in total. School and kindergarten outbreaks have led to 544 people getting infected. The source of infection is not identified in a majority of the cases registered.

Northern region

As of Thursday, there are 42 active outbreaks (minimum of five connected patients) in northern Estonia, 21 of which are workplace outbreaks, ten are hospital and care home outbreaks, seven are school outbreaks and four are kindergartens.

The coronavirus is currently in ten northern Estonian care homes with a total of 822 patients infected. The most patients come from Iru care home with 250, Keila Hospital follows with 186 total infected patients, then Koeru care home with 139. Workplace outbreaks total 383 patients, schools have a total 89 patients connected to go with 47 from kindergartens.

Eastern region

There are 31 active outbreaks in the Health Board's Eastern arm, nine of which are hospital or care home outbreaks (238 patients), four are schools (68 infected), four are kindergartens (48 patients), 12 are workplaces (160 infeted) and one is a family outbreak with six infected patients.

The infection has breached three care homes.

Western region

There are eight outbreaks among care homes and hospitals (238 infected) in Estonia's western region, three workplace outbreaks (31 infected) and six kindergarten or school outbreaks (104 infected). Three outbreaks are categorized as family outbreaks, totaling 17 patients and there is an additional church outbreak with eight people, originating from Saare County.

The coronavirus has breached six care homes.

Southern region

There are 27 active outbreaks in the southern region, eight of which are hospitals or care homes (67 infected), eight are schools (188 infected) and two are related to hobby activities (22 infected).

The infection is in 11 care homes or healthcare establishments, totaling 245 infected people.

Health Board: The situation is milder than it seems

The Health Board explained that the named outbreaks are cumulative, meaning the data includes all infections since the outbreak's initial start.

"As some outbreaks are active for a long time, there are infections among the cumulative numbers that have already been declared closed and people are back to full health. The Health Board considers the outbreak closed only when it has been 28 days since the last infection in the outbreak, meaning two weeks since the incubation period's passing," said Health Board spokesperson Imre Kaas.

According to the Health Board, there are 47 active cases in the northern region. There has been one infection discovered in the Iru care home for example, after a worker there tested positive a few days ago.

"There have not been any infections diagnosed in Keila Hospital in the last ten days. The Koeru care home is the most active outbreak in the northern region, there have been 95 infections in the last ten days," Kaas counted.

According to the spokesperson, there are 34 active outbreaks in the eastern region, 18 in the western region and 32 in the southern region. "Behind the scary numbers is actually a much more milder situation than it initially looks," Kaas commented.

Health minister: Care home infections in downward trend

Minister of Health and Labour Tanel Kiik (Center) commented that the infection indicators in care homes are actually in a downward trend. Over the last two weeks, there have been 250 new infections discovered in care homes, making up some 3 percent of total infections, about 8,300.

Since outbreaks are monitored until the last infected person gets better, most of the 1,500 infected people in care home and hospital establishments got the virus nearly a month back.

At the same time, the minister admonished that there are a few worrying hospital outbreaks in southern Estonia. For example, there is a sudden bump in infections at Põlva Hospital, there are also infections diagnosed within Viljandi Hospital.

"There are people among healthcare workers who have not used their opportunity to get vaccinated. We must continue with that," Kiik said.

Editor's note: This article was updated with comments from the Health Board and minister Tanel Kiik.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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