Tallinn ambulance service at limit due to COVID-19 call-outs

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A Tallinn ambulance on call. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Tallinn's ambulance service averages one call every 20 minutes about potential coronavirus patients, the service's chief doctor, Raul Adlas, says.

This has stretched the service to its limit, Adlas told BNS, adding lines of ambulances near hospitals' emergency departments are not a rare sight.

"We've been working at full capacity already for the past couple of weeks and we've already taken into use half of disaster gear," Adlas said Saturday.

Around half of calls lead to a patient having to be hospitalized immediately, meaning three hospitalizations every two hours. The Tallinn ambulance service also covers neighboring Maardu, and other Tallinn environs.

Adlas added that sometimes ambulances have to transfer a patient to another hospital, sometimes outside the capital and even as far afield as Pärnu or Haapsalu, rather than the facility first visited, while patients receive in-vehicle treatment during that time.

"Last week, we performed as many as 14 such journeys," Adlas said. 

Disaster resources are half-used at present, Adlas said, urging the public to take restrictions extremely seriously to prevent further pressure.

Estonia's current 14-day coronavirus rate per 100,000 inhabitants is second-highest in Europe, while the latest round of restrictions, which see stores, shopping malls and restaurants closed at weekends, were approved by the government Friday and came into force today, Saturday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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