Health Board: New flu, COVID cases still down, likely to start rising again

Patient receiving a flu vaccine.
Patient receiving a flu vaccine. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

In the week of January 9-15, a total of 4,592 people in Estonia contracted acute respiratory infections, 27.4 percent of whom were children. A total of 567 new cases of influenza and 1,348 new cases of COVID-19 were registered last week, the Health Board said Thursday.

Compared with the previous week, the number of patients seeking medical attention for acute upper respiratory infections, the flu as well as COVID had all declined — by 13, 42 and 21 percent, respectively. This decrease could be attributed to winter break and the winter holidays, and case numbers will very likely be on the rise in the weeks ahead, the Health Board said in a press release.

According to data gathered via sentinel surveillance of acute upper respiratory infections, the incidence of infections can be assessed as moderate and the spread of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses broad. Morbidity, meanwhile, remains stable, although it has increased among school-aged children.

Last week, influenza A viruses accounted for 33.3 percent of all tested sentinel samples. Of those confirmed to have been infected with influenza A viruses, the majority have been school-aged children and adults.

The share of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases continued its slow rise, meanwhile, accounting for 21.4 percent of all samples tested last week, with children under four continuing to account for the majority of cases.

Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) accounted for 14.3 percent of cases, while human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs) accounted for 4.8 percent.

Eight flu deaths to date

According to initial data from the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK), 60 patients were hospitalized in Estonia due to the flu last week, with specified data bringing the total number of hospitalizations in the previous two weeks to 175.

Since the beginning of the current flu season, a total of 635 people have been hospitalized with the flu. Of these, some half have been over the age of 65, while another one third have been children.

Based on data provided by Tartu University Hospital (TÜK), West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTK), Ida-Viru Central Hospital (IVKH), Narva Hospital, Pärnu Hospital, Viljandi Hospital, Rakvere Hospital, South-Estonian Hospital (LEH) and Valga Hospital, 19 people have required intensive care due to the flu.

Eight people between the ages of 57-91 have died due to complications from the flu this season, all of whom had serious comorbidities.

Omicron BA.5 and subvariants most widespread

1,348 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Estonia last week, marking an overall decrease of 21.3 percent on week in the number of registered cases.

A total of 12 people died due to COVID last week as well, ranging in age from 69-96, and all of whom had serious comorbidities.

As of this Tuesday morning, 149 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized across the country, 56 of whom required hospitalization specifically due to symptomatic COVID-19

The Health Board and University of Tartu are working together to monitor COVID strains making the rounds in Estonia. According to sequencing data, Omicron strains currently account for 100 percent of infections in Estonia, with Omicron BA.5 and subsequent subvariants alone continuing to account for more than 95 percent.

Of these, BQ.1.1 is currently the most widespread, and accounts for 20 percent of all sequenced samples.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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