The incidence of influenza in Estonia continues to rise, the Health Board (Terviseamet) says, though coronavirus rates have fallen recently.
Olga Sadikova, chief specialist at the Health Board's influenza center, said: "Over the past week, the number of laboratory-confirmed 'flu patients rose by 64 percent."
"The number of acute upper respiratory infections (RSV) patients fell by 27 percent, which is most likely due to the holidays and the school vacation, which has already started," she went on.
5,193 people fell ill with acute respiratory infections in the past week, 37.2 percent of whom were children, while a total of 1,333 flu cases were registered.
2,582 new cases of Covid-19 were also recorded.
Fifty-eight patients, an rise of 52 percent on week, most of whom were older than 65, needed hospital treatment due to the 'flu.
Sadikova gave a reminder that both influenza and Covid-19 are diseases which bring with them heavy costs. "Small children, pregnant women, the chronically ill and the elderly are especially at risk," she said, adding that even a person with mild symptoms can spread the virus to those risk groups for whom the illnesses are life-threatening. "During the peak season of virus transmission, one must avoid visiting risk groups when sick."
Even mild symptoms of illness should result in self-quarantining at home, Sadikova said.
"To avoid illness, it is vital to follow general preventive measures: Avoid crowded places and maintain social distancing, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or, if you don't have one, a sleeve, when you sneeze and cough," she continued.
Based on the data recorded the 'flu intensity can be estimated as high, and the spread of the influenza virus as widespread. The share of influenza A viruses stands at 46.8 percent of all samples, the board says.
Illnesses related to the influenza virus are equally common in all age groups.
Over the past two weeks, 82 people were hospitalized due to influenza, and since the beginning of 'flu season, that figure stands at 220 people.
2,582 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the past week, the board says, a fall of 17.4 percent. Covid morbidity decreased in all age groups.
The share of the coronavirus and the Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) virus stands at 15.9 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively.
Illnesses related to corona virus variants are equally common in all age groups. A third of HMPV-related illnesses are registered among school children. The proportion of RSV stands at 7.9 percent, mainly affecting children up to four years of age.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 261 Covid-19 patients hospitalized, 100 of whom were symptomatic, while 17 people who had contracted Covid, aged between 64 and 103, died, all of whom had serious concomitant diseases.
The three-week school break may slow the spread of viruses in general, though the board forecasts an increase in the hospital workloads in late January to early February.
Editor: Andrew Whyte