The coronavirus crisis has led to excess mortality, Professor Krista Fischer, member of the anti-COVID-19 research council advising the government, has said.
Fisher, a professor of mathematical statistics at the University of Tartu, was speaking before the Riigikogu on Thursday.
She said that in Estonia, an average of 42 people die per day from all causes, but now an average of almost 10 deaths per day are related to COVID-19. "In fact, we see that one-fifth of deaths are currently due to only one infectious disease, which indicates significant excess mortality," Ficher said.
The data shows that the aggressive British strain is widespread in Estonia, but has not reached every county in the same extent, Fischer said. The strain is more than one and a half times more contagious, resulting in more than one and a half times the difference in mortality and in severe cases and the need for hospital treatment.
Fischer said if the infection spreads among young people, then it will eventually reach the elderly. "We, after all, need to prevent the spread of the infection among young people and reduce it namely to protect the old people as well," she said. "Today, with this new strain, we are also seeing that, in fact, hospital patients are getting younger and younger, so young people themselves need to be protected as well."
Fischer made three different predictions, all of which assume that the level of infection will start to fall.
"The first is where we will nevertheless start to see over a few more weeks that the daily number of infected people exceeds 2,000," she said, adding that the mark of 1,000 hospital patients will also be exceeded. "If this situation lasts for quite a few weeks, it may simply not be manageable."
The second scenario says that the decline will be achieved, but not so quickly. The infection rate R will fall to 1.1-1.05 and it will take time for the daily number of infections to fall significantly below 1,500 and eventually below 1,000. However, Fischer said, this also means a long and difficult situation.
The third scenario shows that already by the end of next week, we will see a slight decline, which will accelerate and the infection rate will remain at 0.8. According to Fischer, this would really show that Estonia could face the month of May very calmly and people could celebrate not only Midsummer's Day, but also May Day outdoors with friends.
How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?
- The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
- In crowded places and especially indoors where it is not possible to keep your distance from other people, it is advisable to wear a mask.
- Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
- Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
- When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue.
- Anyone who becomes ill should stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
- People who develop any symptoms should contact their family physician.
You can also download Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' which will alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.
Editor: Helen Wright