Health Board establishes healthcare state of emergency

A COVID-19 department at the North Estonia Medical Center.
A COVID-19 department at the North Estonia Medical Center. Source: North Estonia Medical Center (PERH)

Based on coronavirus infection trends, the Health Board has estimated an increase in the need for hospitalizations, especially among the elderly, which has led the board to establish a state of emergency in the healthcare sector that will allow hospitals to begin allocating more beds for COVID-19 treatment.

"The Health Board will establish a state of emergency in healthcare from today (Wednesday - ed), which will be used to increase the level of readiness in hospitals from August 20 to create additional COVID-19 hospital beds and we must be ready for more people going to hospitals. The state of emergency allows hospitals to allocate more beds for COVID-19 treatment and gives them the option of getting funding from the state," Health Board deputy director Mari-Anne Härma told Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+" on Wednesday.

From August 20, hospitals must have allocated the beds for coronavirus treatment and must be prepared to admit coronavirus patients, Härma said. She said it is currently hard to predict, which healthcare sectors will be most affected by the state of emergency, but scheduled treatments will certainly take a hit.

"The beds being allocated will come from some other resource. Our tightest resource is healthcare workers and this will limit scheduled treatments. In spring, when the number of COVID-19 beds reached 1,000, we were at a critical limit with our healthcare capacities. We will slowly escalate treatments, but it has an effect," the Health Board official said.

Härma said the state of emergency needed to be established ahead of time so that hospitals would have the time to get prepared. According to Health Board estimations, the number of hospitalized patients will increase to 150 by August 20. As of Wednesday, 63 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

Härma said the number of infections will continue to grow and the daily case numbers will have likely reached an average around 300-400 by August 20.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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