Authorities double down on COVID-19 symptoms stay-at-home requirement

A surgical face-mask.
A surgical face-mask. Source: Sylwia Bartyzel / Unsplash

Authorities have restated the importance of employees staying home when sick, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly urging employers to prevent staff with potential symptoms coming to work.

The Health Board (Terviseamet), Rescue Board (Päästeamet) and Police and Border Guard Board PPA) have jointly issued the plea, particularly after recent outbreaks in Ida-Viru County have been connected to workplaces more than any other location.

"The most difficult case for employers is having an employee come to work while sick and later test positive for COVID-19," East Estonia rescue center chief Ailar Holzmann said

"This has occurred in the East Estonia rescue center. The employer must then reorganize the work, and close contacts will be required to self-isolate, but meanwhile the provision of service must continue. All such reorganizations are significantly more complicated than encouraging employees not to come to work when they are sick," Holzmann added.

The Rescue Board itself as an employer allows remote working where possible, and remuneration for the first three days of sickness, even in the case of mild symptoms – not a facility which all employers offer (the state sick pay kicks in after four days, in an effort to curb sick leave abuse, but it can mean some workers being out of pocket for days two and three in particular – ed.).

The PPA says it uses precautions such as face-masks, gloves and disinfectant when dealing with potentially infected persons, and urges taking self-isolation requirements, particularly for arrivals in Estonia.

"One of the concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus is dismissive attitudes towards the self-isolation requirements. We're repeatedly seeing people who cross the Estonian-Russian border bringing the coronavirus with them and ignoring self-isolation requirements (14 days – ed.), thereby also potentially infecting other residents," PPA Lt Col. Üllar Kustala said.

Marje Muusikus, head of the Health Board's eastern regional department, said that responsible behavior by all is what ensures that the spread of the virus will be curbed, and that the normal functioning of the society can continue.

"As the coronavirus is contracted from other people, everyone has an important role in curbing the spread," she said.

Estonia's 14-day coronavirus rate on Monday, at a little over 40 per 100,000, was in fact the lowest in Europe on that day.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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