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North Estonia hospitals preparing to scale down number of Covid beds

Covid ward at North Tallinn Regional Medical Center (PERH) in Tallinn.
Covid ward at North Tallinn Regional Medical Center (PERH) in Tallinn. Source: PERH

Hospitals in northern Estonia are preparing to resume scheduled treatments put on hold in recent weeks after soaring coronavirus rates saw hospitalizations break the 600-mark, a figure set by the authorities as critical. The gradual stepping-down of beds set aside for Covid cases only applies to northern Estonia at present, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday night.

A week ago, 617 people were hospitalized due to the coronavirus, whereas on Monday the figure was 544, AK reported. As of Tuesday morning, the number of hospitalizations was even lower, at 516.

Peep Talving, chief doctor at the North Estonian Regional Hospital (PERH) said that the drop had: "Come as a surprise and started arriving a week ten days after the government made its last restrictions. The effects came quickly, but I believe the effects of the previous restrictions and controls were already working."

Talving instructed hospital managers on Monday that coronavirus beds could be reduced by 25 percent, leaving 309, instead of the current 407.

In Tallinn, treatment will also be concentrated in West Tallinn Central Hospital's (LTKH) infectious diseases clinic, which hosts 84 beds, to relieve the burden on other hospitals and allow a better chance of scheduled treatments resuming.

Hospitalizations in southern Estonia have not yet started falling, however, AK reported.

Andres Kotsar, treatment manager of the University of Tartu Hospital, said that as of Monday, there were 81 patients with severe Covid infection at the hospital who are at risk of infection, and a total of 126 coronary patients in the hospital overall.

Kotsar said: "Over the past weekend, we hospitalized 25 new seriously ill Covid patients, plus a third whom we offered treatment to and who we were able to place in partner hospitals in South Estonia. So the urge for hospital treatment is great."

The greatest pressure is currently on intensive care in the Tartu hospital, where there were only a few vacancies as of Monday, while there is reportedly one more patient in treatment at the University of Tartu Clinic than was the case last Monday.

Põlva, Viljandi and Jõgeva hospitals were those taking on some of the patients fom Tartu, as were the Narva and Kohtla-Järve hospitals, AK reported.

Urmas Sule, Health Board (Terviseamet) crisis department chief doctor said one of the causes of the fall in hospital treatment numbers ins a fall in infections picked up in hospitals over the last few weeks. The profile of patients has also changed, AK reported.

Sule said: "At the beginning of the wave, but also towards the end of it, there were more cases among younger people and there have also been Covid-positive birth-givers, considerably more than was the case in the spring," said Sule

LTKH chief doctor Arkadi Popov said his hospital is also receiving patients who had already been in the East Tallinn Hospital (ITKH), or hospitals in other towns, such as Rakvere or Rapla.

LTKH itself still wants to start up some scheduled treatments,, including expanding the urology department and some operating theaters.

Scheduled treatments were completely put on hold in the first, spring coronavirus wave in 2020.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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