High school distance learning restrictions may soon be relaxed

An empty classroom in Estonia (picture is illustrative).
An empty classroom in Estonia (picture is illustrative). Source: Ministry of Education and Research

The government may discuss changing its decision to move high school students to remote learning in Harju and Ida-Viru counties after the impact of the new restrictions has been analyzed next week, member of the scientific advisory council Professor Irja Lutsar said on Thursday.

"This decision was made because the spread of the virus increased very strongly among young people aged 15-19 approximately 7-10 days ago," Lutsar said, after a meeting at the Ministry of Social Affairs. "We accept that they don't suffer from the disease so badly, but the idea was that young people are very mobile and therefore spread the virus."

Yesterday it was reported that the rate of coronavirus among 15-19 year olds has fallen and is now spreading among the 40-44 year old age group.

Mathematician and member of the scientific advisory council Krista Fischer said on Wednesday: "The infection of working-age people went up first in Tallinn and Harju County. From there, it spread to young people. Their share increased a lot and the infection was very high in the age group 15-19. Now time went on and the infection of 40-50-year-olds began to grow. These people are likely the parents of these young people."

Hospitals have 474 beds for COVID-19 patients

Head of the Emergency Medicine Department and Emergency Staff of the Health Board Ragnar Vaiknemets said at the meeting, that as of December 7, Estonian hospitals can treat up to 474 COVID-19 patients, 84 of them in intensive care.

He said the creation of new treatment wards for coronavirus patients takes about two weeks, and given the recent increase in cases, it may soon be necessary to decide whether or not to open new wards.

However, this will reduce the capacity of hospitals to provide scheduled treatment, as COVID treatment requires more resources. Vaiknemets said the opening of one COVID ward means the closure of two regular wards.

It must also be considered that if doctors and nurses usually work in several hospitals, they will no longer be able to go to another hospital when the COVID department is established, Vaiknemets said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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