Illness downtrend over, reproduction number growing again

A government sign at a shopping mall saying
A government sign at a shopping mall saying "Wear a mask!" Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The weekly epidemiological overview by the Health Board suggests that the reproduction number R is close to exceeding 1.0 in Estonia, placing in jeopardy the country maintaining its yellow threat level.

The 14-day infection rate grew in Hiiu and Harju counties, remained stable in Jõgeva and Tartu counties and fell in other counties. However, the general downtrend seems to be over.

The 14-day case rate per 100,000 people grew for the first time in a long while to 504.52 on Wednesday morning.

The Covid reproduction number R is still 0.99 but could climb above 1.0 by Christmas.

Reproduction number R. Source: Health Board

While the Health Board has said in recent weeks that Estonia might reach the green threat level this year, even remaining on the current yellow level has been called into question now.

The forecast suggests Estonia is looking at 450-500 daily cases this week for a weekly total of 3,500. The number of people with Covid who require hospitalization is forecast to remain around 250.

The holiday season is expected to see more events and contacts between people, as well as more cases of the virus arriving from abroad.

Illness downtrend reversed

The decline in the number of diagnoses stopped last week compared to the week before. The number of cases was up in the 20-24, 45-59 and 80+ age groups.

Growth was fastest in the 50-59 age group (22 percent), while illness fell the most among 70-74-year-olds (24 percent).

The number of cases per 100,000 people is still highest among schoolchildren.

Infection was up in workplaces (from 8.8 to 10 percent) and medical and care institutions (from 2.7 to 3.3 percent), while infection at home and in educational institutions slowed.

The place of infection was unknown in 421 or 14 percent of all cases last week.

Infection forecast. Source: Health Board

Delta no longer the only strain

The Delta version of the coronavirus is still the main domestically spreading strain in Estonia, making up 97.6 percent of sequenced cases. In addition, two AY.4.2 subvariants of the Delta strain and six cases of the new Omicron variant have been diagnosed.

Initial data suggests the Omicron strain spreads more quickly than the Delta variant and is better at ignoring immunity obtained through vaccination or recovery. The effectiveness of vaccines after receiving the booster shot is estimated at 70-75 percent.

Last week saw 33 cases of infection in nursing homes and 115 brought in from abroad (3.8 percent of all cases). Most cases brought in came from Finland (36 cases) and Egypt (19 cases).

The average age of people hospitalized had fallen from 69 years to 67 by December 13.

Weekly hospitalization of vaccinated/unvaccinated people. Green - unvaccinated people hospitalized; Red - vaccinated people hospitalized Source: Health Board

Most Covid casualties unvaccinated

Last week, 38 people with the coronavirus aged 55-93 (average age 78.5 years) died, 33 of them were unvaccinated (86.8 percent).

Five people had completed their vaccination cycle. All had received the Pfizer vaccine and all had preexisting conditions.

A total of 35,590 doses of vaccine were administered last week, up 5.85 percent from the week before (33,622) doses.

Of those who have completed their vaccination cycle, 221,021 have received one additional or booster shot and 183 two additional or booster shots.

Adult vaccination coverage is 72.79 percent and coverage in the 60+ age group 75.04 percent.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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