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Lutsar: We should reduce coronavirus spreading in families

Irja Lutsar.
Irja Lutsar. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

University of Tartu's virology professor Irja Lutsar told ERR she considers preventing the spread of the coronavirus within families the most important and gave instructions on how to do so.

Lutsar told ERR on Thursday that she has noticed the virus is spreading in families and her biggest worry is that young people who are coronavirus positive are infecting their parents and grandparents who then often require hospital treatment.

"We should very aggressively try to reduce the spread of infection in families. I don't think it's right to put young people with mild symptoms in hospital but people should really think about how to avoid infecting their loved ones," Lutsar said.

"When we are all living in the same apartment, eating together, watching television together, there is only a small chance that other family members won't get infected. Maybe there's a possibility to go live in country houses. Maybe there's an empty apartment somewhere," Lutsar said, offering suggestions.

But when people don't have these possibilities, Lutsar explained how to behave with family members under the same roof.

"When I am at home and I'm the only corona positive person in my family, then I go to my room, I don't come out of there without a mask on, I don't eat with my family, I communicate with them through a telephone, don't watch television with them" she explained.

Lutsar emphasized the importance of masks especially in Tallinn and Ida-Viru County. "Indoors where it is not possible to keep distance, wear masks in public transport," Lutsar said.

She added that if the family doctor recommends taking a coronavirus test, it should be done.

Latvia's low number of cases was incomprehensible

Lutsar said that the sudden increase in cases in Latvia was expected. What she did not understand, was the low number of cases at the beginning.

"If you look at what is going on in Estonia, then everything is happening with a flat curve. Latvia's significant increase can derive from one or two outbreaks. There could have been hidden outbreaks. It could have been that there were some measurements, but I never understood how we had cases coming in from abroad and it got me thinking if Latvians weren't traveling at all," Lutsar said.

The second wave derives from a lack of herd immunity

Lutsar said the news wave has affected all of Europe and a lot of people that do not have antibodies against the virus. "Even in Spain, Italy the U.K or France, which all seem to have been hit very hard."

She said that according to a Spanish study, only 5 percent of the whole population had antibodies.

"When people don't have antibodies, then the virus finds the people who are sensitive to the virus. If we want to use the term "herd immunity" or not, then sooner or later, it has to happen," Lutsar said.

Closing countries does not have a lasting effect

"It is well known that if all countries are shut down, the virus will be disrupted, but this is not a lasting effect," Lutsar explained.

"In some countries, this first wave was so suppressed that there was essentially no such thing as the first wave. If I look at Slovakia, there weren't that many cases, but now there are quite a lot," Lutsar said.

Another important factor Lutsar highlighted is the seasonality of the coronavirus, and although the weather seems to be quite warm in Europe, humidity has already changed.

How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?

  • The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
  • In crowded places and especially indoors where it is not possible to keep your distance from other people, it is advisable to wear a mask.
  • Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
  • Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue.
  • Anyone who becomes ill should stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
  • People who develop any symptoms should contact their family physician.

Download 'HOIA'

You can also download Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' which will alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The free app can be downloaded at the Google Play Store or App Store. Read ERR News' feature about the app here. 


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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