Number of coronavirus hospital beds to reach 1,000 by end of week

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Healthcare workers treating a COVID-19 patient in the North Estonia Medical Center. Source: Põhja-Eesti regionaalhaigla

At the end of this week, the number of beds available for coronavirus patients in Estonia will need to rise to 1,000 and will lead to a serious lack of staff. The increase in the number of infected people may lead to even stricter restrictions, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) has said.

Kiik said there are 4,750 active treatment hospital beds in total in Estonia and they are also being used for emergency and cancer patients. A maximum of 1,000 beds can be repurposed for coronavirus patients.

Head of the Health Board (Terviseamet) crisis department Urmas Sule said hospitals are rearranging their beds every day. He said the number of general beds for coronavirus patients is currently around 800.

"By the end of this week, the number of beds should be 877, and there will be 74 third degree intensive care beds, these general beds also include second and first degree intensive care beds," Sule said.

This makes 951 beds in total. Sule said the 1,000 bed limit is approaching and this poses a great challenge for hospitals. Medical equipment also needs to be shared among hospitals that need it the most.

"We are currently negotiating with the University of Tartu and health care colleges for them to help hospitals with students because students are a very important force. The most critical part, in this case, is personnel," Sule said.

Kiik said help is being sought from the private sector to help hospital patients.

He said if the infection rate is not lowered by the new restrictions, then more stricture measures must be introduced.

"Inevitably, we have to close those places and those activities that are not necessary - be it trade, catering, any activity of interest and sport. Despite the fact that any such decision means there will be a financial effect, problems for jobs, but there may not be another choice," Kiik said.

Kiik added closures must be accompanied by fair compensation.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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