29 children infected with coronavirus at summer camp

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A social distancing sign at a playground in Pärnu. Source: ERR/ Helen Wright

Twenty-nine children became infected with coronavirus at a children's camp in Pärnu County, the Health Board said on Friday. Preliminary data suggests they have delta strain of the virus.

The Health Board have said there were 79 children at the camp in total.

Kadri Juhkam, head of the Health Board's regional department for West Estonia, said that the children who became infected come from different counties, and the first cases were registered by the Health Board's northern regional department on July 8, by the southern regional department on July 9 and by the western regional department on July 10.

The organizers of the camp did not inform the Health Board about the children's getting infected, which contributed to the spread of the infection. A second shift was also allowed in the camp, despite the fact that several children who had attended the previous shift showed signs of illness. 

"Surveys conducted by Health Board inspectors have revealed that the first children fell ill already on June 30 and July 1, but the camp organizers could not suspect COVID-19 infection in the children and therefore they were not isolated," said Juhkam.

Children are likely to experience a milder form of the illness with fewer symptoms, this leads to the transmission rate being higher among children.

"The infection is spread from children to family members of children, who in turn can spread the infection in the workplace. Based on the data we have received, we can see that the incidence of the virus in children has increased in the last two weeks. For instance, one 12-year-old infected with the coronavirus participated in a training, as a result of which 13 children who participated in the training became diseased," said Juhkam.

The director general of the Health Board, Üllar Lanno, is calling on everyone to exercise extreme caution.

"The delta strain is much more contagious than the previous strains, and although we hoped to see very low levels of infection until the autumn, the reality shows something else. Outbreaks can occur unexpectedly and the disease may spread quickly. Thus, the Health Board pays particular attention to the rapid mapping of infected people and their close contacts in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Each of us needs to understand that staying at home when one is sick or a close contact is very important," Lanno said.

The Health Board said the rate of spread of the coronavirus in Estonia has increased and the infection rate multiplier R has stood above 1.0 for several weeks. This situation is due, among other things, to an increase in the proportion of the delta strain, which reached 80 percent last week. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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