1 COVID-19 Epi and Health situation update
The monthly number of new coronavirus cases increased substantially in February, which saw a total of 25,649 new cases. This represents a 71% increase compared to the number of confirmed new cases in the previous month. This sharp increase in infections is also reflected in the weekly figures for this month. The number of weekly cases rose by 17-18% between the first few weeks of February. The number then increased by 33% between the last two weeks of the month. The increase in the number of cases from the first to the last week of the month was 83%.
As a result of this substantial—and accelerating— rise in infections, the total number of confirmed cases has surpassed the 180,000-case mark and now stands at 185,453. The period between reaching the 160,000-case mark and the 170,000-case mark was 13 days, and it took an additional 10 days to reach the 180,000-case mark. This is significantly less than the 18-20 days it took to add every 10,000 new cases between the end of December and end of January and more reminiscent of the 7-8 days periods in between marks, characteristic of the most acute phase of the pandemic so far.
The total number of active cases steadily increased from around 6,000 in the beginning of February to the current figure of 15,326 for the last day of the month. The current number of active cases represents 8.3% of the total number of registered cases.
The daily percentage of coronavirus tests to return a positive result, which was 23.9%, on average, in January, increased to an average of 30.3% in February.
The overall crude cumulative incidence of cases per 100,000 currently stands at 5,338. The crude cumulative incidence of cases for the last 30 days is 766, which is markedly higher compared to the same figure last month and indicative of the accelerated transmission of the virus. The crude cumulative incidence of cases over the last seven and fourteen days is 250 and 439, respectively, with both figures exceeding the previous week’s numbers by at least 25% and reflecting the uptick in cases mentioned above.
The number of deaths increased by 511 in February, exceeding the 453 fatalities registered in the previous month. The weekly figures, however, suggest a somewhat more nuanced picture. The number of deaths for the first two weeks of the month were comparable to the weekly figures reported in January. However, weeks 3 and 4 saw an upturn in the weekly number of COVID-19-associated fatalities. There were 169 deaths registered in the last week of February, which represents a 61% increase over the number reported in the first week of the month. After increasing to 2.2% at the end of January, the case fatality rate somewhat decreased to 2.1%. Currently, the total number of deaths stands at 3,949. The average age of patients who have died from the disease is 67.3. Overall, about 95% of all deaths have been reported in patients aged 50 years or older even though this age group accounts for about 50% of all confirmed cases.
As a percentage of daily infections, the cases among people aged 60 and over have been growing in the most recent months. After rising to an average of 36% of daily infections in January, the percentage of infections for this age group somewhat decreased to an average of 33% in February. The 60+ age group represents approximately 22% of the Moldovan population, but 30% of the overall cases and almost 80% of all deaths.
Contrary to the increasing number of new cases, the number of patients who have recovered from the disease registered an additional decrease in February. A total of 16,088 recoveries were reported during the month.
This figure is markedly lower than the number of new confirmed infections, which explains the increase in the number of active cases mentioned previously. The total number of recoveries now stands at 166,178, which represents 89.6% of all cases.
Weekly figures painted a similar picture, with the weekly number of new cases surpassing the weekly number of recoveries during every week of the month. Moreover, the number of weekly recoveries for the first week of February was 3,695, which increased to 4,285 for the last week of the month, an increase of 16%. This is significantly lower compared to the rise in new infections which increased by 83% from the first to the last week of the month, contributing to an increase in the number of active cases.
The contagion rate (R0) remained over 1 for all four weeks of February but has maintained similar values compared to the latter half of January. The overall contagion rate currently stands at 1.19. The rate is uneven across the country, with certain districts registering considerably higher rates than others. Besarabeasca (2.05), Riscani (1.94) and Causeni (1.60) currently have the highest contagion rates in the country. At the same time, Taraclia (0.89), Falesti (0.91) and Edinet (0.96) have some of the lowest contagion rates in the country.
The contagion rate in Chisinau stands at 1.15.
In terms of geographical distribution, Chisinau, with 43% of all cases, remains the most affected area if the number of cases is considered. With 11% of all confirmed cases, the Transnistria region follows in the list of most affected areas. Balti, Ialoveni, and ATU Gagauzia each account for an additional 3% of all cases. The relative extent to which these areas have been affected by the pandemic has not changed in the recent months. All other areas have each reported 2% or less of the total number of cases.
If accounting for the size of their populations, Chisinau remains the most affected area with over 12,000 cases per 100,000. The capital is followed by Edinet, Balti, Ialoveni, Taraclia, Anenii Noi, and Straseni, which have all surpassed the 5,000-cases per 100,000-population milestone. The picture is somewhat different if the cumulative incidence of cases per 100,000 is examined over the last 14 days. With over 1,000 cases per 100,000 registered over the last 14 days, Chisinau has been most affected by the pandemic in recent weeks.
The capital is followed by Ocnita, which registered nearly 900 cases per 100,000 over the last 14 days. This is reflective of a significant rise in cases in this area in the recent weeks. Ialoveni, Anenii Noi, and Straseni follow in the list of districts with the highest number of cases per 100,000 population in the last 14 days.
More women have been infected with the coronavirus than men since the beginning of the pandemic, 59% vs 41%. However, the percentage of men who have died from the disease continued to be somewhat higher than that of women throughout the entire month of February, 51% vs 49%. The case fatality rate among men (2.6%) has also consistently exceeded the case fatality rate among women (1.8%).
The share of health care workers in the total number of cases stands at around 9%. Nearly 16,900 doctors, nurses, medical assistants and other staff from the health care sector have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the outbreak.