Tartu authorities, Health Board urge responsibility after COVID-19 outbreak

Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform)
Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Tartu city government has issued a call for residents of the city to exercise responsibility and caution following a recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). The plea has been issued jointly with the Health Board (Terviseamet).

Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) said the situation in Estonia's second city continues to be serious and requires responsible behavior from all residents.

"The city government is taking several steps on its part to prevent and contain the spread of the virus," Klaas said on Friday.

"We decided to cancel the [popular folk-pop combo] Curly Strings concert organized by the city government, and scheduled for Sunday."

He added that two kindergartens would also be closed due to contact with coronavirus carriers.

Klaas added that temporary bans on visiting the Tartu Hooldekodu old people's home, along with the Vaimse Tervise Hooldekeskus center for people with mental disabilities, in an effort to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Tiia Luht, head of the Health Board's South Estonia district, said part of the problem was that symptoms when presenting in younger people – including a runny nose or congestion, headache, joint pain, sore throats and eyes and diminished sense of taste – are often not taken seriously, including by the young people themselves.

"However, these are specifically the most common symptoms of the coronavirus, after which sufferers should stay at home and contact their family doctor," Luht said.

Tartu city government's crisis management team held an inter-departmental emergency meeting Friday to discuss the mini-pandemic, and, together with the Health Board, recommends Tartu residents avoid indoor events in the next two weeks, as well as maintaining social distancing and hygiene best practices, and self-quarantine when feeling unwell.

The Health Board and the Tartu City Government also urge public events organizers to take steps to ensure social distancing and hygiene norms are adhered to, stressing the social nature of the spread of the coronavirus.

Failure to do so and/or further spread of the virus may mean the return of stricter restrictions, they said.

As previously reported on ERR News a Tartu resident with coronavirus symptoms, who later tested positive, visited shops, a nightclub and the cinema and a spa in Ida-Viru County.

The visit to the nightclub, Vabank in Tartu, has proven particularly costly and has directly led to close to 30 people contracting the virus so far. More than 100 people have been identified as contacts.

Three of the cases diagnosed so far have been reported among Tartu University hospital staff.

All of the seven new COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday by the Health Board related to the Vabank nightclub episode, though none of the new sufferers had themselves been at the club when it was visited by the carrier on July 18. They have all come into contact with people who had been at the club that night.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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