Influenza spreading rapidly in Estonia this spring

Medicine and a thermometer (photo is illustrative).
Medicine and a thermometer (photo is illustrative). Source: Karin Koppel

Influenza cases have risen rapidly across Estonia this spring due to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions and children have been particularly badly affected.

Data from the Health Board show there were fewer than 10 confirmed cases of flu in winter 2021 but this season there have been more than 10,000. The peak is usually reached in winter but will extend until the end of April this year.

"More than 1,500 cases of influenza were confirmed last week, before the peak, it was 200," said Eliisa Metsoja, chief specialist of the Health Board's influenza center.

Metsoja said, in general, the rise in cases is due to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions - such as social distancing and the diligent use of hand sanitizer - which helped to stop the spread of other illnesses.

This year children are contracting the virus in high numbers and there has been an uptick in minors visiting family doctors with flu symptoms.

Family doctor Alina Terep told ERR parents tend to worry when children have fevers and bring them for check-ups. Doctors have been seeing at least one child a day in recent weeks.

There is also low interest in getting vaccinated against flu, in general. While fewer than 4 percent of children have received a dose, the figure is 30 percent for the elderly.

Hospitalizations due to the virus have risen and last week 22 people were admitted for treatment with flu. While children can usually shake off the flu, older people have a harder time and often end up in hospital.

Metsoja said if children are treated in hospital it is often to prevent more serious complications developing.

New cases are expected to decline in the coming weeks.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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