On Monday, scientists at the University of Tartu (TÜ) will begin a nation-wide monitoring study to assess the effect of the new school year on the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Head of the study and professor of family medicine at the University of Tartu Ruth Kalda noted that the start of school has increased contact between people and has created favorable opportunities for the virus to spread.
According to data from the Health Board (Terviseamet), new cases are diagnosed all over the country every day and only a few regions are left untouched.
Kalda explained: "In the latest regional monitoring wave, many people with no symptoms or very light symptoms were discovered and they were not aware of their infection at all. A nation-wide study will give us the opportunity to assess whether there is a wider hidden spread."
She added: "If there is no hidden spread or if it is light, we can plan school life and public events more boldly. However, if it turns out that the virus has spread wider than expected, we can assess necessary measures of alleviation, particularly in regions of higher prevalence."
The study, set to be conducted until September 30, will see scientists testing a total of 2,400 residents of Estonia. The people, chosen randomly for the sample from the population registry, will be contacted by research firm Emor. After an initial questionnaire, a suitable time and location will be set for a swab test. Participation is voluntary.
This is the eighth wave of the monitoring study, conducted by researchers at TÜ, partnered by Kantar Emor, Medicum and SYNLAB Eesti.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste