Health Board: Coronavirus Delta strain now predominant in Estonia

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Health Board deputy director Mari-Anne Härma. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Delta strain has become the dominant coronavirus variety, the Health Board (Terviseamet) says, with the risk of spread and of morbidity particularly high among those who have not completed a full vaccination course.

The board's deputy director, Mari-Anne Härma, said at a press conference Wednesday that: "The general decline in morbidity has taken on a small increase as a result of the midsummer's holiday, but also due to the greater spread potential of the Indian strain," referring to an alternative name for the Delta variant.

Härma said that the delta strain made up 67 percent of all positive results from samples in the week June 28-July 4 (week 26).

Health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) had said the same on Tuesday, adding that the recent downward trend in cases has now stopped, while work must be done to get the numbers down again.

Most of Estonia's domestic coronavirus restrictions were lifted through May and June.

Morbidity rates have risen, however, the board reports, while the number of new cases between weeks 25 and 26 rose by close to 38 percent, while the "R" rate is now in the 1 to 1.2 range, compared with 0.67 in week 25.

The bulk of the new cases, at 88.5 percent, are symptomatic, Härma says, with sufferers feeling unwell and symptoms including a headache. The younger demographic in particular is contracting the virus at a greater rate before. Fewer people in this sector of the populace have received coronavirus vaccinations.

Around a third of cases last week were introduced from outside Estonia, with countries of origin including Russia and Spain, while family circle and workplace outbreaks have also occurred.

Just under 7 percent of those with the virus require hospitalization, though the board estimates the risk of a rapid increase in hospitals' workloads due to the virus to be low.

"The majority of hospital admissions are found among the elderly and the unvaccinated, or vaccinated with a single dose," Härma said.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine courses available in Estonia require two doses.

A total of 1,270 people who had contracted COVID-19 in Estonia have died since the pandemic began. One of these cases occurred last week; the individual had reportedly not been vaccinated.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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