Kadai: Schools should stay open, not switch to distance learning ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Former Health Board chief of emergency medicine Martin Kadai.
Former Health Board chief of emergency medicine Martin Kadai. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Former head of the emergency department of the Health Board Martin Kadai said, despite the increased rate of coronavirus, schools should remain open and not switch to distance learning.

Speaking on Vikerraadio's "News +" on Wednesday, Kadai said "Schools should remain more open because students are not at risk. If a teacher falls ill, a class or part of the school should move to distance learning, but school closures cannot be considered right. Distance learning may not be at the same level as physical learning and children."

He added that certain new restrictions are appropriate but they should be targeted to where the biggest problems are.

"Restrictions were already a major source of conflict in the spring," he said, adding this situation will continue for a long, maybe even years, so a decision needs to be made on how to handle the situation: with severe restrictions or personal behaviour.

He said, in his opinion, the key issue is people's own behaviour and strict restrictions have serious consequences for a lot of people, such as potential unemployment. 

Kadai said the higher numbers of coronavirus infections both in Estonia and throughout Europe were expected.

"It is to be expected that this type of virus infection will spread in autumn and winter. The situation is as expected. We can limit the spread of the virus, but it is not possible to completely control or prevent it," he said.

It has been suggested that the recent school holidays may have boosted the spread of the virus but Kadai believes the rise, including Estonia's, comes from increased testing. All countries are currently testing significantly more people than they were in spring, so more infected people are being identified.

"We are seeing the tip of the iceberg further out of the water than we saw in the spring," he said.

Kadai also thinks the rate of infection in the spring in Estonia could have been higher than has been officially recorded. "If we look at the University of Tartu's antibody study, it showed that a significantly higher proportion of people have been exposed to the coronavirus than officially registered. It is inevitable that some of the sick were not tested in the spring," he said.

He said it is unlikely the number of people being treated in hospital will stay as low as it is at the moment: "If the disease starts to rise today, in a week or two there will be an increase in the number of patients in need of hospital treatment."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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