First coronavirus case found in Estonia

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Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center).
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center). Source: ERR

The first case of confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Estonia was found on Wednesday evening, social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) said Thursday morning.

"I have to say that this morning information that the first infected individual has just been found in Estonia," Kiik told ETV magazine show "Terevisioon" Thursday morning.

Kiik said the affected individual is an Iranian national resident in Estonia, who had not recently arrived in the country either by plane or by sea, but instead had arrived in Estonia by bus from Riga, Latvia.

"The passengers on the [same] bus are currently being identified and contacted," Kiik said, though was unable to say how many people had been on the bus and had had contact with the infected person.

The individual is currently in isolation in hospital, which Kiik said should prevent the further transmission of the virus, and work was ongoing to identify those who the victim had come into contact with.

Kiik declined to say which town or which hospital the individual was currently under care in. However, the Health Board says that they are in the infections clinic at the West Tallinn Central Hospital (Lääne-Tallinna keskhaigla).

"The patient had no opportunity to travel around Estonia [after arriving by bus]," said a spokesperson from the Health Board. 

"The individual came from Riga by bus and called an ambulance to [Tallinn] bus station themselves," she added.

According to Latvia's health board, the individual, later revealed to be a 34-year-old man traveling with his daughter, was in Riga less than three hours, having flown from Istanbul, Turkey, and took a minibus from Riga Airport to the city's central bus station, where he caught a Lux Express bus to Tallinn at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

"All of these events panned out through the course of the night and small hours of the morning," Kiik said, adding that what he currently has is preliminary information, the details of which are being checked.

Tanel Kiik also told ERR that there were no current plans in Estonia to introduce quarantine in Coronavirus cases, with the decision being up to each individual state.

Italy recently put nearly a dozen towns under quarantine following the discovery of Coronavirus cases there, principally in the north of the country, with media reports saying that the outbreak has breached its northern border into neighboring European countries.

The Health Board (Terviseamet) is to provide more details on the situation soon, with a press conference due at 11.00 a.m. om Thursday as well.

According to Latvian public broadcaster LSM's English-language page, the government there held a crisis meeting earlier this week to put preparations in place for the viruses' appearance.

A suspected Coronavirus case in Pärnu yesterday turned out to test negative.

Readers with Estonian can see the original "Terevisioon" interview with Tanel Kiik here.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China, late in 2019. Since then, more than 83,000 confirmed cases have been found in all continents, except Antarctica. More than 2,800 people have died after contracting the virus.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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