Crisis HQ set up in Tartu following student dorm coronavirus outbreak ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

The Raatuse 22 student dorm in Tartu, site of the lock-down.
The Raatuse 22 student dorm in Tartu, site of the lock-down. Source: Google maps

A large-scale joint effort in curbing the further spread of COVID-19 coronavirus at a student dormitory in the southern Estonian city of Tartu is underway, involving the emergency services, the University of Tartu, the city's government and other authorities, following an outbreak first reported Friday.

As reported on ERR News, as of Saturday evening the number of coronavirus cases among student residents of the dormitory, on Raatuse 22 in the city center, had risen to 16, up from the initial six reported on Friday.

Around 280 students are on lock-down inside the dormitory, with those infected with COVID-19 in isolation from healthy residents. The latter will get outdoor breaks, according to a Tartu City Government press release issued Saturday evening.

Close to 300 coronavirus tests were analyzed Friday and Saturday, the city government reports.

Lock-down order given by Jüri Ratas after consultation

Jüri Ratas (Center) in his dual role as prime minister and, to use the government office's official parlance, the person in charge of the emergency situation, placed movement restrictions on the Raatuse street students on Friday, April 17, after a proposal to do same by Margo Klaos, who heads up southern region operations related to the emergency situation.

Consultations were also held with Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise, Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform), Tartu university rector Toomas Asser, and Irja Lutsar,  virology professor and head of the government's research council, before the order was given.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) are monitoring compliance with the restrictions.

Urmas Klaas, who is also head of the Tartu crisis team, said the most important issue is stopping any further spread of the virus within 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 is also demonstrated by the fact that shutting down an entire dormitory and setting restrictions on movement is an unprecedented case for Estonia," he said.

University providing food, protective equipment

The University of Tartu has also laid on free catering, personal protective equipment, including 6,000 masks provided by the City of Tartu, and disinfectants, for the dorm's residents, with communal areas cleaned and their use reorganized. The university also provided information on the restrictions to the students.

A strategic headquarters headed up by Urmas Klaas which includes the city and university, the Health Board (terviseamet), the southern region rescue center, the PPA's Southern Prefecture, the Tartu emergency medical care center, and the Tartu student village is now in place, according to the city government.

The university also has its own crisis headquarters, led by the university's academic secretary, Tõnis Karki.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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