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In total, 394 new influenza cases and 1,152 COVID-19 cases were added this week

In week five of the new year, a grand total of 3,689 people fell ill with acute respiratory infections. Overall, 39.2% of all of the new cases involved children. In total, 394 new influenza cases were registered. A total of 1,152 new COVID-19 cases were also added.

The number of those people who sought medical attention due to acute upper respiratory tract infections, including influenza and COVID-19, remains at a stable level, with approximately 45% of those who have fallen ill being formed by children up to the age of fifteen.

Based on information which had been logged during a targeted survey of acute upper respiratory tract infections (with this survey being known as ‘Sentinel Monitoring’), 50% of those samples which were analysed were found to be positive for influenza-type viruses. Influenza A forms 12.5% of all cases. Influenza B, SARS-CoV-2, the human metapneumovirus (hMPV), and rhinoviruses each form 8.3% of cases, and RSV forms 4.2% of all Sentinel samples to be analysed.

This week saw an increase in the number of influenza B cases which have been confirmed by laboratory testing. Such infections have considerably lower potential to spread, and tend not to turn into epidemies. Even though influenza B may not result in a significant increase in the number of new cases amongst the population, closed collectives such as children’s institutions tend to provide fertile soil for the spread of the virus. The influenza season may be extended by this, as a result of which we may see outbreaks across different institutions. Influenza and COVID-19 are both currently spreading at a moderate rate, with the spread of the influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses remaining extensive. 

According to the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, thirty-five patients were hospitalised in week five due to influenza. As many as seventy-six people overall have been hospitalised within the last two weeks. Since the beginning of the season a total of 908 patients have been hospitalised due to influenza. As many as 71% of those individuals have been over the age of fifty.

The overview of serious influenza cases (those which require intensive care hospitalisations and which can result in fatalities) is based on information which has been reported by Tartu University Hospital, the North Estonia Medical Centre Foundation, East Tallinn Central Hospital, West Tallinn Central Hospital, Ida-Viru Central Hospital, the hospitals of Narva, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, and Valga, and the South Estonian Hospital. Based on information which has been provided by those hospitals, thirty-one people in total who are aged between 13-91 have required intensive care due to influenza. As many as sixteen people have died this season due to influenza. Those individuals were aged between 13-91 and all of them were included in risk groups.

In total, 1,152 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed over the week. The spread of COVID-19 remains stable. Based on the results of wastewater monitoring, SARS-CoV-2 virus concentrations in wastewater have shown a declining trend. As of Wednesday morning, a total of 150 people were in hospital due to COVID-19, of which forty-seven required treatment due to the presence of symptomatic COVID-19. This week saw seven deaths being added to the overall total, involving individuals between the ages of 42 and 90. 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 71% of all cases.

The influenza season generally lasts between October and May. The influenza B virus has been circulating, which may prolong the influenza season. The severity of illnesses which may be related to the influenza B virus do not differ in terms of their severity from illness which are related to the influenza A virus.

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.

Memo for viral diseases:

  • Get vaccinated if you have not already done so.  
  • If you are ill, please stay at home.
  • Only visit individuals who are included in any of the risk groups if you yourself are healthy.
  • If you fall ill, get in touch with your family physician or call the family physician advisory line (1220).
  • If you are included in any of the risk groups, avoid crowded places or wear a mask in such places.
  • Observe general hygiene rules.