PERH doctor: Omicron coronavirus strain will fill hospitals

North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) chief Peep Talving.
North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) chief Peep Talving. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The number of patients admitted to hospital is expected to rise as the Omicron coronavirus strain is spreading rapidly, the chief physician of the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) said on Tuesday.

Dr Peep Talving told morning breakfast show "Terevisioon" the strength of the strain has been much discussed and labeled by many as less severe. However, due to Estonia's low vaccination rate, this may not be the case here.

"When omikron reaches everyone widely, I am absolutely convinced that the hospitals with fill up with the next wave," he said.

Talving said this is why he is against restrictions being relaxed.

"We are seeing daily cases in the 1600s. I am quietly seeing the beds of the Northern Medical Center starting to fill up. I can already hear signals that we should start escalating," he said.

He said the issue will be discussed on Wednesday.

During the last wave in 2021, there were 750 hospital beds across the country available for coronavirus patients. Estonia implements restrictions when hospitals' capacity starts to rise. Currently, 251 patients are in hospital.

The graph below shows the number of patients hospitalized in Estonia due to coronavirus. The number has been almost unchanged for the last month.

Starkopf: No young people in hospital

Joel Starkopf Source: ERR

Board member at Tartu University Hospital Dr Joel Starkopf said there are 32 patients being treated and two of them are in intensive care.

"This situation has remained virtually unchanged over the past three to four weeks," he said. The majority of people receiving treatment are unvaccinated.

All patients are aged between 40 and 80 years old, Starkopf said.

The clinic currently has 40 beds and five intensive care beds set aside for coronavirus patients. An additional 20 beds can be used for COVID-19 patients if needed.

"But it will clearly be at the expense of restricting other activities. So the balance is fragile," Starkopf said.

He said the majority - 70 percent - of the hospital's staff have been vaccinated with booster doses already. In comparison, Peep Talving said approximately 55 percent of medical staff have been boosted at PERH.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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