Wednesday's announcement that one of Estonia's largest high schools would be switching to distance learning Thursday after a canteen worker tested positive for COVID-19 does not seem to have been replicated among schools as a whole, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Wednesday night.
Jüri upper secondary school will be sending its over 1,000 student body home from today, Thursday, after the coroanvirus case, an announcement made the same day Estonia posted its COVID-19 record number so far since the pandemic began, at 208 cases.
"Since we cannot deal with all the children, I have, together with the teaching body, decided that it would be more prudent, with the knowledge we know have of the number of infections across the country today, to switch to distance learning," Liina Altroff, the school's director, told AK.
Altroff added that the option of simply closing the canteen had been explored, but had drawn a blank since finding a caterer for the 1,300 pupils at short notice was not possible.
However, while school outbreaks have been identified in Estonia – at two schools in northern Estonia along with two schools in Ida-Viru County, along with a kindergarten there, to be precise – most focal points relate to workplaces and family and close contacts groups.
That does not mean this needs to remain the case, regarding schools, deputy Health Board (Terviseamet) director Mari-Anne Härma told AK.
"If the number of cases relating to educational institutions reaches a high enough level, then the probability of getting infected at schools also rises, which is in turn inevitably linked to a region's morbidity rate – if this grows, so will its schools," Härma said.
While generally close contact outbreaks are declining, in Harju County, Estonia's most populous region, the trend is for the recers, and the proportion of cases whose origins are unknown is also on the rise, Härma said.
According to the Health Board, the proportion of people in Estonia who are in close contact has decreased. However, there are a few new cases. "Their share is increasing in Tallinn and Harju County. And in the same way, the share of cases with unknown sources of infection is currently increasing in Tallinn and Harju County, now accounting for almost a quarter of all cases," he said.
The government is to discuss possible restrictions in the light of the current rising numbers on Thursday, a situation which social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) called serious.
"At the current rate of viral spread, we will soon reach the stage where stricter restrictions will have to be adopted at governmental level. This will be the case so long as the current rates continue," Kiik told AK, noting that larger gatherings even at Christmas and New Year's Eve may also be off the table.
Editor: Andrew Whyte