Nationwide infection rate R slightly down from week prior

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A sign asking passengers to wear a mask on a Tallinn bus. Source: Helen Wright / ERR

The infection indicator - R rate - was around 0.92 in Estonia last week, down from 0.95 the week prior. A lot of it had to do with the epidemiological situation in Harju County, where the infection rate is in a downward trend.

The epidemiological overview published on the Health Board's site weekly points out that Estonia's R rate without Harju County would be 0.98.

Infections across Estonia have stabilized, but easing restrictions could bring forth a jump in infections, the overview warns.

Rate of unknown infection sources declining

As of data for the 19th week of 2021, the infection source is unknown for 28 percent of all cases during the week (31 percent in week 18). The current rate of unknown sources is down from the general trend since the 49th week of 2020, when unknown infection sources stabilized around 30-36 percent.

During week 19, 41 percent of new cases received the infection within family, 14 percent of the new cases happened in the workplace, 7 percent of the cases happened elsewhere (likely among acquaintances and the place of residence), 2.7 percent of infections happened abroad, 2.5 percent in children's and educational establishments, 2.1 percent in healthcare establishments.

Compared to the week prior, the pattern of infection sources has not changed much. Infections abroad, in healthcare establishments and in the Estonian Defense Forces have fallen some.

Against the background of a general decrease in infections, the number of detected active outbreaks has also decreased. The number of active outbreaks over the last week was 109, down from 133 the week prior.

Workplace outbreaks are still most common (69 percent). The number of children's establishments has increased, especially among pre-school institutions. There is just one active school outbreak (a special needs school, where distance learning is not possible).

What is the R rate?

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: Kristjan Kallaste

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