Delta strain coronavirus cases have doubled in 10 days

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Despite a low number of new infections, cases with the delta (Indian) variant have doubled in the past 10 days and pose a threat, Mari-Anne Härma, deputy director general of the Estonian Health Board, said on Wednesday.

"At the moment, we are at the medium risk level, or yellow, with infections. Vaccinated people have a low chance of getting infected, but unvaccinated people have a high chance," Härma said at a press conference.

She said the cases have been mainly brought in from Russia and Ukraine.

"There are fewer and fewer infected people among those who come back from travel, and infection rates in Europe as a whole are falling too. However, if infection is brought in to Estonia, it has a big impact," she said.

Härma cited the example of a case of the delta strain brought in from Russia, which was immediately linked to 40 local infections.

"It is suspected is that there is a wider spread of the Indian strain in Russia than the official records indicate. Prevalence of the disease in Russia is growing exceptionally fast at the moment," she said.

"Infections with the Indian strain have doubled in the last 10 days. Although the prevalence numbers are coming down and at the moment we don't see that the Indian strain has led to an increase, by the end of June this Indian strain, or delta strain, could be dominant," Härma noted.

She said it is mainly unvaccinated people that are becoming infected and unvaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized.

"Although it is estimated that 35 percent of the population will be completely protected from the disease by the end of June, 35 percent is not yet enough to be protected from a new wave, and if it comes, Estonia will not be at an advantage in any way," she added. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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