Coronavirus-related deaths are now the third-highest recorded cause of mortality, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday night.
A rise in the number of deaths among patients who were suffering from COVID-19 is reflected in data from state agency Statistics Estonia, AK reported, with 600 more people dying in the first eight weeks of 2021 than in the corresponding period of 2020 – just before the pandemic began.
Total deaths in the first eight weeks of 2021 came to 3,398, AK reported, with over 1,700 of these being people aged over 80, and over 1,000 between 65 and 79, compared with fewer than 500 younger people.
The Health Board (Terviseamet) has been reporting daily figures for deaths among COVID-19 patients as high as 14 or 15 in a day, while the last day where no deaths were posted came at Christmas time.
Doctor Arkadi Popov, head of the West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH) and a key expert and spokesperson throughout the pandemic, said excess mortality rate should hammer home the message to the public that the situation is not good.
Popov told AK that: "Doctors have been talking about this for a few months now - that we have been experiencing a rising mortality rate in Estonia since the middle of last November. As of now, we have reached the stage where this has been officially stated. That is a serious message."
Head of the cause of death register at the Institute for Health Development (TAI) Gleb Denissov told AK that the third-highest cause of death is respiratory disease, with the bulk of these involving COVID-19 cases.
Denissov said: "Normally, half of all deaths are caused by circulatory diseases, about a fifth by cancer or tumors, with trauma and poisoning in third place. Now, third place goes to respiratory diseases, with most of these being coronavirus."
At the same time, there are currently no statistics showing exactly whether and to what extent the coronavirus can indirectly affect mortality, Denissov said, noting that the current statistics for actual causes of death only run to January at present.
As of Wednesday morning, over 100 patients with COVID-19 were in LTKH beds, while the hospital plans to add more.
Arkadi Popov said that nonetheless all those requiring emergency treatment will always get it, even in the worst-case scenarios with a rapid spike in cases. Scheduled treatments would suffer in this case, however, he added, with the outcomes from that likely to be clearer later. Scheduled treatments were canceled during last year's March-May emergency situation, but are now permitted to go ahead where possible.
Editor: Andrew Whyte