Hospitals have started to prioritize treatment for patients with severe cases of coronavirus and people with less serious cases will be treated at home for longer.
Head of the Emergency Crisis Department of the Health Board Urmas Sule said the increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital has slowed a little, but the healthcare system is in an increasingly difficult situation.
Patients are waiting longer to be admitted as serious cases are being prioritized, he said.
The Health Board official said 55 patients are being treated in intensive care and 37 people are using ventilators.
"Those who end up in hospital end up with a really serious case of the illness," he said.
As of Monday, 571 patients are being treated in hospital with 248 in the north and 323 in the south.
Last week, 69 patients died after contracting coronavirus, the highest weekly total since the spring.
Number of patients catching COVID-19 in hospitals is falling
Sule said fewer cases of coronavirus are being transmitted in hospitals.
As of October 28, there were 165 similar cases and yesterday there were 156 cases of people who picked the virus in hospital.
He said when these cases are detected patients are immediately isolated.
"The infection comes through the back door - it comes through a negative patient who gives a positive result two days later," he said, adding patients are tested regularly.
"But the infection still reaches weaker people either through care institutions or relatives," said Sule. "The measures are stricter in hospital than in the country as a whole, but they do not guarantee that the virus will not be brought in to the hospital."
He said reducing transmission in hospitals to zero is not possible.
"The next step would be to impose a total restriction of movement on both employees and people. Then we would not even let loved ones visit patients," he said.
He said the majority of hospital workers are vaccinated but, due to staff shortages, those who are unvaccinated cannot be dismissed.
How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?
- Keep your distance in public places.
- Wear a mask in crowded places.
- Wash your hads 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.
Editor: Helen Wright