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The Health Board: the number of cases involving young people has risen steeply

Foto: Pixabay

A significant increase has been seen in the last few weeks in the number of coronavirus cases that involve the 10-19 age group. Therefore the Health Board is calling for a careful review of the activities of youth centres and hobby groups all over Estonia.

In the period between 2-8 November, the number of new cases in the 10-19 age group increased by over 300 percent when compared to the figures for the week before. In week forty-six of the year - that is, in the period between 9-15 November - the increase amounted to over 100 percent when compared to the preceding week. As of today, eighty-two percent of all general education schools in Tallinn are connected to cases of infection.

‘This is a very worrying trend which shows that hobby group activities that serve to bring together pupils from different schools can currently be ranked as significant events that are facilitating the spread of the virus,’ said Mari-Anne Härma, deputy director-general of the Health Board, specifying further that those activities included various sports training events, dance schools, music schools, acting classes, and art and handicraft groups, as well as choir and orchestra practice sessions.

According to Härma, children often carry the virus asymptomatically or develop very mild symptoms themselves, but can still pass on the virus. ‘Symptoms of the disease are often not even noticed in a child, which increases the risk of any potential spread.’

Even though the risk in Estonia of being infected with coronavirus in connection with hobby activities is currently at its highest in Tallinn, Harju County, and Ida-Viru County, that risk is growing every day across the rest of the country. ‘It is important to keep on providing hobby group-related education, and education in general, and certain compromises must be made in terms of hobby group-related education for this purpose,’ said Härma.

The Health Board would especially like to highlight some high-risk activities which are accompanied by a considerable risk of spreading the virus, with it being nearly impossible to implement meaningful measures that will prevent such a spread. Such activities involve the creation of forced airflows which may release a high volume of the pathogen. Furthermore, such activities may involve close contact. ‘Such activities include choir practice, orchestra practice, and those sports which involve communication and close contact between team members,’ said Härma.

The aim of the Health Board’s recommendations is to prevent the spread of the virus among young people before Christmas. As Christmas and the prolonged festive break that surrounds the Christmas period will result in increased levels of travel all over Estonia, as well as more socialising, the asymptomatic spread of the virus by children will increase the risk of the virus reaching elderly people, as well as churches and other cultural events during the holiday season.

Today, the Health Board sent letters detailing their recommendations in connection with hobby activities to the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Rescue Board, and the City Government of Tallinn, as well as the Tallinn Sports and Youth Department.  

The Health Board advises anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus, including young people, to self-isolate until the end of the period that is determined by their family physician.

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