The number of new coronavirus cases was more than 20 percent higher last week than in the preceding week making Estonia's infection rate the second highest in Europe, newspaper Postimees reported on Wednesday.
As of Thursday morning, Estonia's 14-day average is 850.81 per 100,000 people. The World Health Organization's monitor show's the Czech Republic has the highest rate at 1,211.
Üllar Lanno, director general of the Health Board, said that the agency thinks a nationwide rate below 500 would be satisfactory but, currently, the figure is above 500 in 11 Estonian counties. See the graph below.
At a press conference on Tuesday, speaking about the infection rate, he said: "Estonia is second in Europe. If everything continues in the same way, then becoming the first is not difficult," Lanno said.
Should the trend continue, Estonia's infection rate may grow to around 2,000 in two to three weeks, he told the newspaper. The infection rate - known as R - is above 1 meaning the spread of the virus is increasing.
Looking at the date, the growth in the number of infections is fastest among people aged 10-29, particularly boys. The virus is also rapidly increasing among people aged 30-39.
The number of coronavirus patients has only decreased among people aged younger than 10 and over 80. The decline in the older group may be attributable to vaccinations as infections among health care workers have also decreased since the start of the immunization process.
Irja Lutsar, virology professor and head of the anti-COVID-19 research council advising the government, told Postimees that hospitals in Tallinn are about to reach their treatment capacity limits. The outbreak is particularly intense in Tallinn and Harju County.
"What must be remembered about Tallinn hospitals is that they also admit patients from elsewhere [in the country]. These hospitals reaching their full occupancy also immediately affects other hospitals," she said.
Lanno also said the situation in Harju County hospitals is very difficult.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) underscored the situation in Estonia is more critical than ever before. "The number of people in need of hospital care is growing. We aim to provide scheduled treatment throughout the crisis, but understandably, the health care system, too, has its limits," the minister said.
The government is due to discuss new restrictions on Thursday.
Three counties have a 14-day infection rate of over 1,000
As of Thursday morning, three Estonian counties have an 14-day infection rate of over 1,000 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The map below shows the infection rates in each region of Estonia and you can see Harju, Saare and Ida-Viru counties have the highest rates.
Võru County, Järva County, Lääne-Viru County, Rapla County, Pärnu County, Jõgeva County, Valga County, Põlva County and Tartu County all have rates between 500 and 1,000.
Viljandi, Hiiu and Lääne counties' rates are all below 500.
ERR's Estonian portat reported on Thursday that Maardu municipality, which borders Tallinn in the east, has the highest rate at 3,108 per 100,000 inhabitants. It has a population of approximately 15,000 people.
Following on, Viru-Nigula municipality (Lääne-Viru County) has a rate of 1,933, Antsla municipality's (Võru County) is 1,819, Saaremaa municipality's is 1703, Loksa town (Harju County) infection rate is 1,574 and Lääneranna municipality (Pärnu County) has a rate of 1,526.
Editor: Helen Wright