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Health Board: High risk of limited local coronavirus transmission

Thermal cameras at Port of Tallinn.
Thermal cameras at Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Health Board has updated its risk assessment for the spread of the coronavirus in Estonia and now believes the risk of limited local transmission to be high.

The updated risk assessment comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday evening.

In most cases, the disease has an incubation period of 5 to 6 days, but the virus is detectable in airway samples 1-2 days before and up to 37 days after the onset of symptoms.

Mari-Anne Harma, head of the infectious disease monitoring and epidemic control department at the Estonian Health Board, said: "It is important to remember that testing positive for the virus does not mean the person is necessarily infectious. The disease generally becomes infectious upon the emergence of symptoms; however, knowledge about this remains limited."

Children and pregnant women are infected just like others, but children usually have mild symptoms and pregnant women have the same clinical signs as others. 

Currently, no serious complications have been observed in babies when the mother has had COVID-19 during her pregnancy. Similarly, the transmission of the disease to breast milk has not been observed.

Older people and people with chronic illnesses, who are more likely to have severe forms of disease and higher mortality rates, are at risk.

The main symptoms of coronavirus infection are fever, dry cough and fatigue, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. At present, approximately 80 percent of cases, including cases of pneumonia, have been mild to moderate. 14 percent of cases were serious cases and six percent were critically ill.

Those returning from the risk area have to monitor their health for 14 days and stay at home

People who have a reasonable suspicion of coronavirus infection should call their family doctor or family doctor's advice line at 1220. Emergency numbers 112 should be called in the event of a deterioration in health. You should not go to the emergency room.

Coronavirus should be suspected if the person has been in the risk area for the last 14 days or has been in close contact with COVID-19 and has symptoms characteristic of the disease. Otherwise, it may be a flu or a flu-like virus that is widespread in Estonia.

In addition to avoiding close contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness, adherence to hygiene rules, which include proper and constant washing of hands, helps prevent infectious diseases.

Based on the recommendations of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), as of March 11, the People's Republic of China, Italy, Iran and South Korea have been identified by the Health Authority as high-risk areas for coronavirus. 

Medium risk areas are Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria), France (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est, Hauts-de-France, Ile-de-France), Tyrol ski resorts in Austria, Spain (Madrid, Catalonia and the Basque Country), Japan and Singapore.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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