Doctors prepared for uptick in seasonal viruses this winter

A runny nose.
A runny nose. Source: Karin Koppel

Even though the coronavirus is still spreading in nurseries and schools, more children with other viruses are being admitted to Tallinn Children's Hospital. Experts say that the new school year may bring an uptick in viruses.

Last year, significantly fewer children were diagnosed with seasonal viruses, such as flu, compared to previous years. But now the school year has started again, viruses are spreading, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Tuesday.

"We can't compare it with last year when everybody was wearing masks, keeping their distance, washing their hands, didn't go to school or work when sick. The current situation is similar to 2019, the year before covid. And the children who come to the hospital are suffering from several viruses at the same time," the head of the pediatric clinic of the Tallinn Children's Hospital Reet Raukas told AK.

Family doctor Le Vallikivi said: "Usually, a pre-school child is sick 8-12 times a year and we are seeing it at the moment - the coughs, runny noses, fevers, it's all there."

Vallikivi said parents often turn to the doctor when children have symptoms and they can be tested for coronavirus. However, she said the virus is rare among youngsters.

As there were fewer viruses last year, immunity may have decreased, virologist Professor Irja Lutsar said.

"We were not in contact with several viruses last year so immunity against these viruses has somewhat decreased. Our immune system needs fixing," she said.

Lutsar said it's difficult to say whether the viruses will start spreading widely in society.

"Experts are afraid of all that and maybe the season will be more difficult regarding other viruses. We can't predict that and we also canot predict the course of the coronavirus, but we have to be ready for something like this," Lutsar said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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