Hospitals will be able to treat fewer coronavirus patients this autumn compared to the spring peak due to staff shortages, the Health Boards's Chief Medical Officer Urmas Sule has said.
Approximately 730 patients were receiving treatment at the same time in the spring, but this autumn hospitals will only be able to treat around 600 patients.
This figure could be reached by the end of October, Sule told ETV's "Esimene stuudio" interview show on Thursday.
"The capacity of hospitals today in terms of staff is definitely lower than it was in the spring. People are tired, there is no enthusiasm, it is difficult to involve people and it is a very big challenge," he said.
The problem was also highlighted by West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH) chief physician Arkadi Popov on Wednesday.
Sule said health professions expect support from the government and citizens. Wearing a mask would be a start, but will not be enough in the long run.
He said there are no signs the epidemiological situation is improving.
"First of all, the increase in morbidity is constant, stable and shows no signs of abating. And it is absolutely logical that against this background the need for hospital treatment is growing [...] And I don't see signs of anything positive at the moment," said Sule.
He said more restrictions are likely to be introduced as more people - particularly the unvaccinated - become infected and need treatment.
"I am afraid that today's wave will not subside. We are currently seeing the disease getting worse all the time," Sule said.
"Also the number of older people in need of hospital treatment is growing exponentially, which means the need for hospital treatment is growing at a drastic rate."
On Thursday, almost 450 people were being treated in hospitals across Estonia - meaning there are only 150 beds left.
Scheduled treatments have already been suspended in Tartu University Hospital and East Tallinn Central Hospital.
The government has said restrictions will be introduced to stop the healthcare system from being overburdened. New rules will be introduced on Monday.
How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?
- The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
- Wear a mask in crowded places.
- Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
- Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
- If you develop symptoms stay at home and contact a family doctor.
- You can also get vaccinated against coronavirus for free.
Editor: Helen Wright