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In total, 428 new influenza cases and 1,157 COVID-19 cases were added this week

In week four of the new year, a grand total of 3,699 people fell ill with acute respiratory infections. Overall, 37.5% of all of the new cases involved children. In total, 428 new influenza cases were registered. A total of 1,157 new COVID-19 cases were also added.

The number of those people who sought medical attention due to acute upper respiratory tract infections and COVID-19 remains at a stable level, with approximately 40% of those who have fallen ill being formed by children up to the age of fifteen. The number of people who sought medical attention due to influenza dropped by 29% when compared to last week’s figures. 

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’), infections are spreading at a moderate pace, with the spread of the influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses remaining extensive.

The epidemiological picture of the circulating viruses has begun to change. Based on initial data, 55.7% of samples which have been analysed were positive for influenza-type viruses. Influenza A, RSV, and rhinovirus cases each form 11.5% of all Sentinel samples analysed, while influenza B and parainfluenza viruses each form 3.8% of the total.

Influenza B viruses which have a low potential to spread have also appeared in circulation. Even though influenza B may not result in a significant increase in the number of new cases amongst the population, closed collectives such as schools tend to provide fertile soil for the spread of the virus. With this in mind we can in the future expect to see outbreaks within various institutions.

According to the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre, forty-six patients were hospitalised due to influenza in week four. As many as eighty-five people overall have been hospitalised within the last two weeks. Since the beginning of the season, a total of 832 patients have been hospitalised due to influenza. As many as 71% of those individuals have been over the age of fifty.

Based on information which has been reported by Tartu University Hospital, 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, thirty-one people in total who are aged between 21-91 have required intensive care due to influenza. As many as fourteen people have died this season due to influenza. Those individuals were aged between 33-91 and all of them were included in risk groups.

In total, 1,157 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed over the week. The spread of COVID-19 remains stable: the total number of registered cases did not change, but the number of new cases within the 75-79 age group jumped by 161%. Based on the results of wastewater monitoring, the SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration in wastewater is showing a declining trend. As of Tuesday morning, a total of 152 people were in hospital due to COVID-19, of which thirty-nine 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 75 and 87. 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 74% of all cases, with the remaining cases being formed by BA.2 and its subvariants. Sequencing also revealed one new recombinant of the Omicron strain: XBB.1.5.

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.