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Number of positive Covid cases among school pupils, staff continues to fall

School student using coronavirus rapid test kit (photo is illustrative).
School student using coronavirus rapid test kit (photo is illustrative). Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

A total of 2,742 coronavirus cases have been found in schools in the four weeks since rapid testing began. A week ago, the figure stood at 2,283, meaning 459 new cases were found in the past week.

Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna (Reform) says the number of positive tests has been decreasing on a weekly basis, since testing in schools began, and recommends testing now be confined to unvaccinated students and teachers, and those who have recovered from the virus.

Kersna said: "Studies show that vaccinated young people between the ages of 12 and 15 get up to ten times less frequently, and those between the ages of 16 and 19 up to five times less frequently, than their non-vaccinated peers."

The breakdown between students and teaching and other staff stood at 2,405 and 337 respectively, as of Saturday.

This week's figure comes to 392 pupils, down from 922 in week one, 584 in week two and 507 in week three.

Among teaching staff and other school employees, 61 tested positive this week, compared with 117 in week one, 90 in week two and 69 in week three.

The number of schools submitting responses is the same as last week. 

One Tallinn school posted 17 positive cases among pupils this week, while five other schools reported 10 or more positive test results among the student body.

319 schools, 67 percent of respondents, reported no new cases, compared with 283 (58 percent) last week.

A total of 478 general education schools – 92.5 percent of the total nationwide – responded to the survey.

Of these 478 schools, 119,778 pupils and 20,294 employees tested this week, just under half of them in school only – much the same as was the case last week. Of the remainder, testing was done either at home – with parental supervision where needed – or in a combination of both venues.

The requirement to test three times per week was eased last week to two times, though nonetheless 79 schools said they tested three times still, 372 said they carried out two tests and the remaining 26 tested once. One school which responded to the survey said pupils were not tested at all this past week.

When self-testing at home, a positive test result from a student is not definitive and requires confirmation from a healthcare professional.

Both the rapid testing, which is provided to schools free-of-charge, and the feedback survey have been conducted each week since November 1, when schools returned after the half-term break and amid soaring Covid rates generally at the time.

Kersna said that in the next week, test kits will be sent to schools on the assumption that two tests per week will be conducted, among unvaccinated pupils and those who have recovered from a previous bout with Covid.

More frequent testing is viable, but a school must purchase the test kits themselves.

The program is set to continue to February, as things stand.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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