There is an epidemic spread of coronavirus in Estonia and as things stand, the virus can be caught everywhere, Deputy Director General of the Estonian Health Board Mari-Anne Härma said at a press conference on Wednesday. The South African strain of the virus has also been detected in Estonia.
"We have entered an accelerating growth trend. Last week, the growth in the number of cases was bigger by 21 percent than in the week before. The indicator grew the most in Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, in Põlva and Rapla counties," Härma said.
"Infection grew in all age groups except for the 70-year-olds group. People became infected mainly at work and in school," she said.
Härma said that the infection multiplier, known as R, has surpassed 1.1, which means that if we go on this way we will have over one thousand new infection cases per day in March.
"72 percent of schoolchildren get infected in school or at home. The numbers of infection cases related to schools have increased threefold. On the other hand, infections in care institutions have declined, just as with medics," Härma added.
The official pointed out that the numbers of cases where the source of the infection is not known are high.
"This means that there is an epidemic spread in Estonia. Let me repeat that when permission has been given to organize something, this does not mean that it is safe to participate in the event," she added.
According to Harma, people should refrain from taking part in any unnecessary activities that involve other people.
"At the present moment we should not attend parties, sauna parties should be postponed, night song festivals should be avoided, just like participation in various sports events," Harma said.
"All the things that one manages to organize now, it doesn't mean that it's sensible," she said.
The main source of infection in Estonia is the home, where the infection has arrived mainly from the workplace, school, via friends or hobby activities, or the origin of the infection is not known.
"The high rate of cases with an unknown source continues to be our main concern," the deputy director of the Health Board added.
South African coronavirus strain found in Estonia
362 coronavirus test samples have been sequenced in Estonia this year, and in 45 of these samples the British mutation of the virus was discovered and one case of the South African mutation, the Health Board said on Wednesday.
Twenty-one of the cases of the British strain have been brought into Estonia and in four cases the British strain was found in a close contact. Nineteen cases were transmitted within Estonia and the origin of the infection is unknown.
The South African mutation was brought in from Tanzania.
"All these people have been isolated. We are in contact with them. To all of them the same restrictions on movement apply as to carriers of the regular strain," spokespeople for the Health Board said.
Editor: Helen Wright