Forecast: 2,500 coronavirus cases a day expected by September

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Viljandi Folk Music Festival Source: Henri-Kristian Kirsip

The Health Board has forecast that 2,500 new cases of coronavirus could be expected per day in September due to a growing infection rate, the Delta strain and crowded summer events.

So far there have been nine outbreaks that have infected 166 people and this number is likely to grow. These events include weddings, children's camps, sports and entertainment events and summer days.

As the events brought together people from across Estonia, the virus is likely to spread across the country. The Health Board expects that almost 200 people will catch coronavirus from the participants this week, who will then spread the virus to others.

The latest forecast predicts that Estonia will see days where approximately 2,500 cases will be diagnosed in September, which will exceed the number from the spring outbreak which did not pass 2,000.

The agency believes 1,000 people will become infected next week but Estonia will see 1,000 cases a day at the end of August if there are no new restrictions introduced. The infection rate - R - is currently 1.25 which means it is growing.

So far the virus is mostly spreading among young people, but it is likely to start spreading to older people soon. This will increase the number of patients in hospital and the likelihood of new restrictions.

The Delta strain has been the dominant variant in Estonia and is present in 95 percent of cases.

R is over 1 in all regions

In the northern region, the infection rate R remains stable, with a small upward trend of 1.25, compared to 1.2 last week. 

Elsewhere the infection rate has risen quickly. It jumped from 0.85 to 1.35 in the eastern region last week, which has the lowest vaccination coverage. It rose from 1.2 to 1.65 in the south and from 1.27 to 1.65 in the west.

Looking at each county, the infection rate decreased in Võru County and remained stable in Ida-Viru and Järva counties, but rose everywhere else.  

The highest increase was in Tartu County - 174 percent. This is followed by Lääne-Viru County (138 percent), Saaremaa (121 percent), Põlva County (87 percent) and Valga County (70 percent). Pärnu County's rate grew by 93 percent - the same as the week before - while it grew 57 percent in Lääne County and 50 percent in Jõgeva County.

The regions with the highest 14-day infection rate are Pärnu County with 138 infected per 100,000 inhabitants, Rapla County (99), Tartu County (82) and Harju County (79).

Outbreaks are mainly among the young

Over the past two weeks, the highest number of cases were diagnosed in the 20-39 age group but it was also higher in the 15-19 and 40-49 groups. Cases spread among friend groups and were caught at entertainment events.

The majority of cases brought into the country have come from Spain, Russia, Finland and Turkey.

Of those who were fully vaccinated, 777 people or 0.14 percent have become infected. Of these, 60 people, or 0.01 percent were fully vaccinated and needed hospital treatment.

41 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and 69 percent of people over the age of 70 have been vaccinated. 

How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?

  • The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
  • In crowded places and especially indoors where it is not possible to keep your distance from other people, it is advisable to wear a mask.
  • Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
  • Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue.
  • Anyone who becomes ill should stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
  • People who develop any symptoms should contact their family physician.

Download 'HOIA'

You can also download Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' which will alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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