Health Board: Covid certificates more likely to be abolished in March

Mari-Anne Härma
Mari-Anne Härma Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Coronavirus certificates are more likely to be abolished in March than February, acting head of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma said on Thursday.

Speaking on ETV's "Esimene stuudio", she said while new infections are at a record high, the number of patients in need of hospital treatment for coronavirus has remained stable until now - although it is slowly starting to rise.

By next week, there could be 500 patients in hospital and 600 the week after. Currently, there are 446 people being treated in hospitals across Estonia, approximately half have severe cases of the virus. 

Deaths from coronavirus are also rising. This is because the virus has started to affect the elderly again, she said.

Härma said this means the coronavirus vaccination certificates is unlikely to be scrapped this month. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the same thing on Thursday, saying the hospitalization rate has already exceeded the government's limit.

A coronavirus vaccination certificate displayed on a mobile phone. Certificates can also be printed out and carried on paper. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Härma could not say when the certificates would be removed but March is more likely than February.

"There is nothing certain in this world. We would like to see a declining trend in infection rates by the end of this week. If we see a declining trend in infection rates by this Sunday, we can expect our hospital growth rate to start declining from Monday onwards," she said, adding this should be clear by the middle of next week.

Härma said if the most pessimistic scenario is reached and 600 people need hospital treatment for coronavirus, scheduled treatment will need to be suspended again.

In the autumn, 600 was the limit for terminating scheduled treatments but now this number may be between 500 and 600 due to staff shortages, she said.

Mari-Anne Härma. Source: ERR

Discussing the number of deaths, the presenter asked Härma how many people are dying because of coronavirus. She said "nearly 100 percent" are due to coronavirus even though many people also have underlying health issues.

"If it is still possible to live with comorbidities. [...] These people could have lived for years if they had not been exposed to coronavirus," the official said.

Härma said there is little difference between Omicron and the previous strains.

"Unfortunately, there is a rumor that this strain is lighter but it is overlooked that people are already having an immune response [after vaccination]," said Härma. "Omicron for unvaccinated people, especially the elderly, is not very different from previous strains."

The official said for a long time the strain was spreading among the young, not the elderly, which also made it appear weaker.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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