Health Board: Coronavirus infection rate falls below 0.8

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Mari-Anne Härma Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The infection rate - R - has now fallen below 0.8 in Estonia and infections have fallen for the third week in a row, Deputy Director General of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma has said.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Härma said R has fallen further and seems to be stabilizing. In the following weeks, it can be expected that cases will fall to 500 a day. "It's definitely a goal we should aim for by the start of the summer," she said.

Last month it was said the infection rate would need to be 0.85 for summer to restrictions free.

Additionally: "Morbidity has been on a downward trend for the third week in a row in all age groups," Härma said.

Despite the falling infection rates, hospitals are still struggling and people with serious cases are still being admitted to hospital. "We can see that the number of ambulance calls has not decreased yet. The number of people in need of hospital treatment does not show a downward trend, but next week it should also be in decline," she said.

There has not been a fall in the number of deaths, but this is expected in the coming weeks.

The number of infections brought in from abroad has not changed significantly in recent weeks, either. Most cases have been brought in from Egypt, Russia, Sweden and Finland. Twenty-nine cases with the South African mutations have been identified.

What is R?

The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.

An R value of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable.

If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people. If R is 0.5 then on average for each 2 infected people, there will be only 1 new infection.

If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking. The higher R is above 1, the more people 1 infected person infects and so the faster the epidemic grows.

R can change over time. For example, it falls when there is a reduction in the number of contacts between people, which reduces transmission. R increases when the numbers of contacts between people rise, leading to a rise in viral transmission.

Source: UK government website

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Editor: Helen Wright

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