Tallinn school closed after confirmed student coronavirus case

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Kristiine High School in Tallinn, the first school to be closed after a pupil tested positive for COVID-19.
Kristiine High School in Tallinn, the first school to be closed after a pupil tested positive for COVID-19. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn Kristiine High School (Tallinna Kristiine Gümnaasium) has been closed for two weeks after a student was diagnosed with COVID-19 coronavirus. The student had returned from a trip to Bergamo last weekend, on a flight which carried several individuals now confirmed as coronavirus-positive. The parents of the child sent them back to school earlier in the week.

The Ministry of Education and Research says that since it is not possible to identify who the infected student had come into contact with at the school, they are having to close their doors for two weeks. All 850 students will stay at home and have work provided online, and in the meantime are asked not to take part in any group activities including sports and hobby pursuits.

The school's premises, in the Kristiine district west of the city center, are to be thoroughly disinfected.

Education minister Mailis Reps told ERR Friday that: "One class could not be separated [from the others]. The school uses a classroom system where students and teachers move between different locations, so it was impossible to tell where the affected student had been in hallways, the school cafeteria, or the toilets."

The Health Board (Terviseamet) has said that no other confirmed cases in schools have been identified, but a number of at-risk individuals have been mapped. Reps said that these individuals are being tested.

"The most important thing is that the teaching gets done and that teachers are involved in the organization of home schooling. The children will not fall behind in their studies, while we deal with the consequences," Reps said.

In order to prevent the spread of infection in schools and kindergartens, the education ministry is asking all heads of educational institutions nationwide, in cooperation with local authorities, to be prepared to close their doors for up to two weeks if needed, and to make provisions for remote teaching.

As of Friday afternoon, there are 10 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Estonia, up from three on Thursday, the Health Board says.

Health Board: Student's parents sent them back to school following Italy trip

Speaking at a press conference Friday afternoon, spokespersons Ester Öpik and Martin Kadai said that the child had been one of several people confirmed with coronavirus in Estonia – almost all the instances in fact – who had returned on a flight from Bergamo, Italy last Saturday.

The child had felt unwell on Monday, March 2, and not attended school, but felt better on Tuesday, when the parents decided to send them to school.

After the student felt unwell again, they stayed away from school and were under Health Board supervision from Thursday, with the discovery made Friday morning that they tested positive for coronavirus.

At that point the Health Board informed the school, and asked the school to inform all parents of the case; the school then closed.

The Health Board has also been monitoring students and teachers who had been in contact with the infected student, though no further confirmed cases have at the time of writing appeared.

Those who have reason to believe they might be infected with coronavirus – which means having recently traveled to an at-risk area – should call their family doctor or the family doctor helpline on 1220.

The emergency number, 112, should only be called in the event of a serious deterioration in health.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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