Coronavirus cases increase to 16 at Tartu students' halls of residence

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Raatuse 22 students' halls of residence.
Raatuse 22 students' halls of residence. Source: University of Tartu.

On Saturday evening the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases at the University of Tartu's Raatuse street student dormitory had increased to 16.

Tartu City Government said in a statement on Saturday evening that as of 6 pm, after testing had been carried out on the residencies of the Raatuse dormitory, 16 positive coronavirus results have been found. In total, nearly 300 tests were analyzed, and the ambulance team tested those who were not available for testing on Friday.

The dormitory is currently locked down with around 280 students inside under orders issued by the government. Students who have tested positive have been separated from the other residents. Healthy persons in quarantine will be allowed to spend time outside.

Residents are provided with free meals and personal protection and disinfection equipment. The city of Tartu has provided more than 6,000 face masks to the residents of the dormitory.

Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of the University of Tartu told ETV's "Actual Camera" on Saturday evening: "There have been attempts to hold such parties in the past. And when the notice has come, security companies have acted decisively and stopped or dispersed the party. We cannot rule out that something like this will happen in the future, not only in Tartu, but also In Tallinn or anywhere else, informing about such events is welcome. Currently, yes, we are unfortunately dealing with the consequences. "

On Friday morning, it was reported that six students tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a party on April 9. Some of the 14 guests were already displaying symptoms.

The City of Tartu is making a joint effort to stop COVID-19 spreading

The Tartu City Government, the University of Tartu, the Estonian Health Board, the Southern rescue center, the Southern Prefecture, the Tartu emergency medical care center, and other authorities are making a joint effort to ensure that the coronavirus would not spread further in and from the Raatuse dormitory, which has become a hotspot.

Urmas Klaas, the city's mayor and the head of the Tartu crisis team, said on Saturday the most important thing now is to quickly stop the spread of the virus in the dormitory. 

"We are working closely with our partners and doing everything to make sure that the virus does not spread further from the Raatuse dormitory. The seriousness of the situation also shows in the fact that shutting down an entire dormitory and setting restrictions on movement is an unprecedented case in Estonia, "Glass said.

A strategic headquarter has been set up to resolve the situation, which includes the Tartu City Government, the University of Tartu, the Estonian Health Board, the Southern rescue centre, the Southern Prefecture, the Tartu emergency medical care centre, and the NGO Tartu Student Village.

Mayor Urmas Klaas is leading the work of the team. To fulfil the tasks set for the University of Tartu and NGO Tartu Student Village, a crisis headquarter has also been set up at the University of Tartu, led by the university's Academic Secretary Tõnis Karki.

Missing tests

Postimees reported on Saturday morning that ambulance brigades had not been able to contact all students who need to be tested.

Tiia Luht, the head of the Southern Regional Department of the Health Board, said approximately 30 more tests need to be carried out.

Luht said the health board had contacted students and mapped who need to be tested but when Synlab's testers went to take samples they could not contact some of the students.

She said she needed to clarify with the testing team what the exact problem was as to why they had not been able to take samples.

Luht could not confirm whether the rumor going around on Saturday that some of the students had refused to take the test was true but said she could not believe people would be so irresponsible. 

Message from University of Tartu rector

On Friday the University of Tartu posted a video on Facebook of a message from Rector Toomas Asser. He said: "I urge all students to do everything in your power to avoid becoming carriers and transmitters of the virus."


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Editor: Helen Wright

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