Kiik: Pandemic over when there are fewer than 100 patients in hospital

Hospital room at the North Estonia Medical Center.
Hospital room at the North Estonia Medical Center. Source: Jürgen Randma/Government Office

Estonia's coronavirus pandemic could be considered over when there are fewer than 100 hospitalized patients being treated for severe cases, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Kiik said he is sticking to the opinion he expressed in September - that the most important measure for coronavirus is the burden on the healthcare system.

He said hospitals' current workload with the Omicron strain is lower than with Delta and Alpha, but the health care system and family doctor centers are still very busy.

On Wednesday, there were 193 patients being treated for coronavirus in hospitals. Kiik said when there are fewer than 100 patients being treated for severe cases of the virus then the situation has normalized.

"If we see that the situation in hospitals is normalizing, stabilizing further, falling further, and the spread of the disease to the primary health care system will not cause more serious disturbances, then we can say that we have reached a normal situation," the minister said.

Health Minister Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Discussing the future use of the coronavirus vaccination passport, he said Omicron has changed the situation and many European countries are reconsidering their usefulness. While they may well continue to be used for international travel, domestically it is unclear.

"Countries are thinking more and more about the organization of life in spring, summer, autumn, etc. At the moment, we cannot make any fundamental changes because the level of Omicron is rising, but this debate must be held in the European Union in any case," Kiik said.

While Omicron has led to record high numbers of new cases in Estonia - more than 5,000 a day - the number of people hospitalized has been falling. It is also quite common for the strain to be symptomless.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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