Wastewater study: Coronavirus spread continues to break records
Compared to previous weeks, the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia has either stayed the same or increased in all regions of Estonia, researchers at the University of Tartu announced.
"There is nothing to cheer about. If we look at the overall state in Estonia, it has gotten a little worse everywhere," lead researcher Professor Tanel Tenson told ERR.
Coronavirus findings are lowest in Hiiu County and Saare County - the two largest islands west of mainland Estonia - but Tenson said the situation has either stabilized or gotten worse everywhere else.
The researcher said the spread of the coronavirus in wastewater is the highest it has ever been in Estonia. The all-time record could stem from the Delta variant. "We see the Delta variant and there may be a little more of it per person than the variants we had in January and February," Tenson said.
The virus levels in waste water have been growing steadily since the beginning of August. Similarly to last week, the situation is somewhat calmer in western Estonia and on the islands, compared to the index describing the Estonian average.
The rise in southern Estonia is led by Põlva, which has also been at the top in the Health Board's statistics in terms of the number of new infections considering the population size. Tenson said the virus levels have been steadily increasing in Põlva for some time.
"By [Friday], the amount of the virus in Põlva has become higher than ever before. Therefore we can assume that the number of new infections continues to rise," he said.
"Although there seem to be fewer places marked in red (indicating a very wide spread of the virus) on this week's map, the situation is borderline in many places. The amount of virus in places marked in red is so high that it raises the average index in Estonia," Tenson said.
Compared to February, there are twice as many settlements with identified coronavirus cases.
The volume of coronavirus in wastewater in southern and southeastern Estonia, the epicenters of the third wave in Estonia, is still growing. Tallinn and Ida-Viru County have also caught up with the rest of Estonia. "Ida-Viru County has had large growth over the past weeks and it is likely to continue," Tenson said.
Tenson says there is little hope that the situation will improve in the coming weeks. "The fastest way to stop the spread of the virus is by vaccination," he said.
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.
- Vaccinations against the coronavirus are widely available.
You can find more data about coronavirus in Estonia on the Health Board's website or at koroonakaart. Both websites are in Estonian, Russian and English.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste