Extensive coronavirus outbreak in Valga County nursing home

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Paju nursing home. Source: ERR

Over 120 residents and staff of the Paju nursing home in Valga County have been infected with the coronavirus. Despite the extent of the outbreak, some patients are on the way to recovery and the care center is managing under its own steam.

The major outbreak in the Paju nursing home complex has been growing over the past ten days, with fewer than ten people testing negative out of around 100 residents.

The virus has penetrated all buildings of the general and special care services home. Ambulance crews decided to take three people to hospital on Friday.

"I have tested positive myself now. I have been on site, working for 12 straight days, so it was probably inevitable. I knew I would catch it if I stayed. No, I will not go home and will keep working for as long as I can. I will get the chance to go home if I hold on for another few days as people will be returning from sick leave. The Health Board knows I am here and that everyone around me is infected," said Monika Rogenbaum, head of NGO Paju Pansionaadid.

The hospital has had to manage under its own steam. While Valga Hospital offered to send medical students to help out with patients, they needed to be turned away.

"It was likely a misunderstanding between different parties. Because the entire home is infected, we cannot create so-called clean and dirty zones. We were told from the Health Board that these girls should not be here because no clean zone has been created," said chairman of the board Kalju Sinisalu.

Employees of the nursing home remain optimistic despite the complicated situation and believe everyone will recover. Some residents could be seen walking outside on Saturday.

"We have nowhere to move people. We did at first, on the first day. We hoped we could contain the situation and had a "clean" building. But mass infection means so-called clean and dirty zones cannot be maintained. People who have not tested positive are isolating in their rooms in buildings where we have individual rooms," Rogenbaum explained.

It is possible the virus was brought to the Paju home by employees, while the exact source of the infection is unknown. The number of infected is growing in the city of Valga, with education, culture and sports facilities' work disrupted.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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