Health Board: Tartu COVID-19 outbreak brought from abroad but data lacking

Vabank night club in Tartu.
Vabank night club in Tartu. Source: Elina Paševitš.

The latest COVID-19 outbreak in Tartu can be traced back to people who have entered the country and not followed the 14-day self-isolation requirement. The Health Board (Terviseamet), responsible for supervision on self-isolation, does not, however, have precise data on travelers entering the country, partly because the police stopped collecting such data in May.

Simmo Saar, communications manager at the Health Board, confirmed that in addition to the 28 cases of COVID-19 discovered in relation to a person displaying symptoms of the virus visiting public spaces in Tartu, most notably the Vabank night club, there is another outbreak developing.

Saar told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Sunday that further info on the new outbreak will be published this week.

Although outbreaks in night clubs have come shortly after restrictions on the institutions were lifted, the Health Board is not in a rush to re-establish restrictions.

Saar said: "It all depends on how the situation will develop and how people will behave. Restrictions are one thing but event organizers also have to host their events safely, so everyone would have space."

From August, the 100-person restriction on night clubs, casinos and other similar entertainment establishments was lifted, as long as such establishments ensure 50 percent capacity and sufficient distancing.

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) believes that different sectors of economy should not be treated differently, and new restrictions on entertainment establishments were not on the table. He said people should behave responsibly, especially when returning from travel.

Kiik said: "The main moral takeaway regarding cases in Tartu and others is that the two-week obligation to stay at home must be followed when moving and staying in other countries. That is the best way we can keep the spread of the virus under control in Estonia."

The Health Board is responsible for supervision on the self-isolation obligation, but the institution does not have information on who is coming from where. The Police and Border Guard Board stopped collecting this information in May.

Simmo Saar said: "That complicates the monitoring process and there is nothing we can do but emphasize that if someone is coming from a foreign country, they are legally obliged to follow the restriction set on movement."

Social minister Kiik added: "The implementation of this supervision, data collecting and managing, is much more complicated now than it was when there were mandatory checks at border points. But that is why I emphasize the role of peoples' behavior and responsibility in helping us controlling the situation."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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