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In total, 356 new influenza cases and 1,204 COVID-19 cases were added this week

In week seven, a grand total of 3,163 people fell ill with acute respiratory infections. Overall, 40.1% of all of the new cases involved children. In total, 356 new influenza cases were registered. A total of 1,204 new COVID-19 cases were also added.

Based on information which had been logged during the Sentinel targeted survey, infections are currently spreading at a moderate rate, with the spread of the influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses remaining extensive. In total, 65.9% of those samples which were analysed were found to be positive for influenza-type viruses. Influenza A forms 14.6% of all cases, while influenza B and the human metapneumovirus (hMPV) each form 7.3% of all Sentinel samples which have been analysed, with RSV forming 14.6%, rhinovirus forming 12.2%, and SARS-CoV-2 forming 4.9%.

The number of new COVID-19 cases to be added remains at a stable level, while the number of new influenza cases is showing a slight growing trend. In total, 180 influenza cases were confirmed by laboratory testing, of which eighty-three were influenza A cases and ninety-seven were influenza B. More specifically, twelve influenza A cases and fourteen influenza B cases were identified, including six cases of the A(H1N1)pdm sub-type of influenza A and six cases of the A (H3) sub-type. There are three sub-types currently in circulation in Estonia: the A(H1N1) influenza A sub-type, the Victoria influenza B sub-type, and the H3N2 influenza A subtype.

According to the initial information from the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, thirty-one patients were hospitalised with influenza in week seven. As many as sixty-eight people overall have been hospitalised within the last two weeks. Since the beginning of the season a total of 1,091 patients have been hospitalised due to influenza. The need for hospitalisation grew amongst children and working-aged people. This fact is very likely related to the co-dominating A(H1N1)pdm 2009 sub-type of the virus.

According to the Health Board’s available information, forty-two patients aged between 13-91 have required intensive care due to influenza. One of those individuals had previously been healthy, but all of the others were included in risk groups. As many as sixteen people have died this season due to influenza. Those individuals were also aged between 13-91.

In total, 1,204 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed over the course of the week. The spread of the virus has increased amongst adults and the elderly. As of Tuesday morning, a total of 121 people were in hospital due to COVID-19, of which forty-three required treatment due to the presence of symptomatic COVID-19. This week saw eight deaths being added to the overall total, involving individuals between the ages of 71 and 92. All of those individuals had serious underlying illnesses.

Based on sequencing data, fully all of those cases were caused by the Omicron strain of COVID-19. The BA.5 Omicron subvariant and the successors of this variant form 62.5% of all sequenced samples, with 18.75% each being formed by the XBB recombinants of BA.2 and also its successors.

On the basis of an extraordinary decision which has been made by the Health Insurance Board, as of 6 February everyone is eligible to receive a free anti-influenza vaccination until the vaccine stocks run out. Vaccination is something which should seriously be considered by any individuals who are included in risk groups, along with those individuals who come into contact with them.

The expert committee on immunoprophylaxis advises everyone over the age of eighty to get the third booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine. A vaccine which has been adjusted to the BA.4-5 Omicron subvariant should be the preferred choice. Any individuals over the age of eighteen who are included in a COVID-19 risk group have also been advised to get themselves revaccinated with the same vaccine if this is deemed necessary by their physician.