Tartu university researchers begin COVID-19 monitoring in Harju County

Coronavirus testing (picture is illustrative)
Coronavirus testing (picture is illustrative) Source: ERR

A wide-scale monitoring study led by researchers at the University of Tartu is set to begin in Harju County and Tallinn geared at assessing the extent to which the virus has spread outside registered outbreaks and among the general population.

Head of the study and professor of family medicine at the University of Tartu Ruth Kalda said that the number of infections in Tallinn and Harju County has significantly risen in recent times in particular. 

Kalda said: "The infection rate in Tallinn and Harju County has risen notably higher than the average in Estonia. New outbreaks have been caused by people returning from trips abroad, which is why it is important to study more broadly whether or not there may be hidden spread of the virus in Tallinn and Harju County."

The research team's plan for the monitoring study was approved by the government on Thursday.

The upcoming study, which is the seventh wave in a larger coronavirus prevalence study, will see 4,000 residents of Harju County and Tallinn surveyed and tested on the basis of a random sample. Pollster Kantar Emor will begin surveying participants on Friday. Nasal swabs required for testing will be taken and analyzed by private healthcare providers Synlab and Medicum.

Participation in the study is voluntary, but the research team is counting on residents' cooperation.

Recent study concludes in Ida-Viru County

A monitoring study focused on Ida-Viru County was recently concluded and the results thereof showed the existence of hidden spread of the virus. From August 28 to September 9, 1,350 people, or approximately 1 percent of the region's population, were tested in Ida-Viru County based on a random sample. Three participants, whose virus symptoms were very mild or entirely absent, were diagnosed with the coronavirus. To their knowledge, they had not come into contact with a virus carrier.

According to the study results, the number of adult coronavirus carriers in Ida-Viru County is between 100 and 700.

Kalda said: "We can say that the prevalence of the infection in East-Viru County has grown and is now comparable to the situation in April. The number of cases is higher among young people, for whom the course of the illness is mild or symptomless."

The study results also show that keeping a safe distance from other people is important as virus carriers may not always exhibit symptoms. 

The coronavirus prevalence study is carried out by 17 researchers from the University of Tartu. Study partners include Kantar Emor, Medicum Eriarstiabi and Synlab Eesti.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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