Twenty-six people contract COVID-19 at Põlva County care home ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Bedroom at an Estonian care home (photo is illustrative).
Bedroom at an Estonian care home (photo is illustrative). Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

An outbreak at a care home in Põlva County in southeastern Estonia which has involved 26 cases so far, has led to staffing problems.

The Health Board and also doctors at the University of Tartu are prepared to plug the gap, however.

The sheer scale of the outbreak, at the Kanepi Home (Kanepi Kodu) in the village of the same name, is cause for concern for Ülo Tulik, management board member at Lõuna-Eesti Hooldekeskus AS, who said that there was nonetheless: "...Certainly no reason to panic.

At the same time, even the mildest of potential coronavirus symptoms should be taken seriously, he said.

"There is no such thing as someone feeling too unwell."

Finding replacement staff will also be a challenge, he said.

Ülo Tulik said that finding the replacement workers is the biggest concern in a crisis situation.

"The problem with employees is complex. We have found some solutions for the coming days, but over the long run, finding replacement employees at Kanepi Kodu is a serious issue. Workloads have increased and necessitated requirements and recommendations," he said.

Tulik confirmed that although there is a ban on visiting the ward, the family members of the residents of Kanepi Kodu can communicate with them by phone or computer.

"Family members are worried; as from today we have a complete ban on visiting the home, but it is still possible to get information over phone and using other information channels. I think they need not be too worried, because, as I said, there are no symptoms of illness presenting," Tulik added.

The Health Board's southern regional department chief Tiia Luhti said the outbreak was already under control.

"Kanepi Kodu's employees and clients have now been tested a total of three times, and patients have been quarantined off from one another after each of these tests. If new cases appear, these will also be placed accordingly and we can keep the sick and their close contacts separate."

Friday brought a record daily total of new coronavirus cases at 241, the Health Board reports, with Saturday's figure of 229 only slightly behind.

The Health Board, the prime minister and the social affairs minister have all said in the past 24 hours that Estonia is facing another health emergency due to soaring COVID-19 rates, at a time when lockdowns are being imposed in other European countries and elsewhere.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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