Health Board crisis chief: Rate of older hospitalized patients has grown

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A COVID-19 department at the North Estonia Medical Center. Source: North Estonia Medical Center (PERH)

Health Board emergency medicine chief Urmas Sule said that the need for coronavirus treatment in hospital has not decreased evenly across Estonia and an increase can be seen in the rate of older people who have been hospitalized.

"The situation in hospitals is stable. We are all waiting for the hospital treatment figures to fall as fast as general infection has, but it has unfortunately not happened with hospitalization. This shows that the disease continues to be very serious and that there is a danger that people who get infected can fall seriously ill," Sule told ERR on Monday.

"If we look four weeks behind, our record day - we had 727 patients on stationary treatment on April 5. That number is 407 today and it seems quite small already. But the need for intensive care remains very high. We have 62 patients on third-level intensive care units and 41 of those are under assisted breathing," Sule noted.

The Health Board crisis chief added that the disease remains a serious one. "There was a trend a few weeks ago when infected people were younger but the rate of older patients has grown again over the last few weeks. The current average age of hospitalized patients is 69 years," Sule said.

He noted that hospitals are closing down coronavirus wards some to make room for patients with other illnesses. "We have planned the trend in a way that once the situation actually stabilizes, coronavirus patients are taken for treatment in infection clinics. But that is a long time away," Sule said.

The transport of infected people from one hospital to another will be stopped soon, Sule said, adding that new patients will be hospitalized in the hospitals that are planned to treat coronavirus patients going forward. For example, coronavirus patients in northern Estonia are likely to end up in the West Tallinn Central Hospital.

Sule said that the condition of all hospital network establishments having to maintain the ability of treating patients with respiratory viral infections in their emergency departments will remain in force.

He added that while the coronavirus situation in Harju County has stabilized, the situation in Ida-Viru County is still problematic. Sule expressed hope that people in Ida-Viru County will eventually get their vaccinations and added that the immunity in Estonia's least vaccinated county is helped by the spread and people actually getting the illness, but he does not recommend such "vaccinations" to anyone.

He concluded that the need for hospital treatment will likely fall when the current low or falling level of infections stabilizes or once the weather gets warmer. "These two things could coincide for a positive effect to go with mass vaccinations," Sule said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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