Health Board forecast: R rate now between 1.1 - 1.3

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A nurse administering a PCR coronavirus test. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

Estonia's coronavirus infection rate - R - has risen to between 1.1 and 1.3 across the country and there may be more than 100 cases a day by the end of the month, the Health Board said in its weekly review.

In the southern and western regions, R is rising quickly. Last week in the south, R was 0.8 but this week it has risen to 1.8. In the west, it was 0.7 last week but is now 2.0. The level is stable in the north and east. When R is below one the infection rate is no longer rising.

The Health Board is predicting that over 400 cases a week will be diagnosed next week with between 60 and 80 new cases expected each day. At the end of the month, it is likely there will be 100 new cases a day. Currently, about 50 new cases are recorded every day.

Last week, there were 24 percent fewer cases recorded in Saaremaa which is the only place where new cases fell. The highest increases were in Valga, Jõgeva, Võru, Lääne and Pärnu counties.

The regions with the highest rates are still Rapla, Ida-Viru, Harju and Pärnu counties. In total, there were 301 new cases recorded last week - an increase of 32.6 percent.

Last week, 20.4 percent - 56 - of new cases were brought in from abroad, 23.3 percent were caught in family groups, 10 percent from acquaintances and 7.6 percent from workplaces. This is similar to the week before.

The Delta strain is now dominant in Estonia. Medical testing company Synlab said the proportion of Delta strain samples has risen from 7 percent five weeks ago to 80 percent last week.

"The delta strain is dominant and we can attribute the rise in the infection rate to the Delta strain," said Üllar Lanno, director general of the Health Board. "At the end of July, we can already see that there will be more than 100 cases a day," he added.

Lanno said the Delta strain has been registered in all counties except Hiiu County.

The government and local councils are trying to encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid a severe future third wave. Estonia's vaccination coverage rate for adults is 53 percent.

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: Helen Wright

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