TALLINN - At the beginning of this week, conscripts of the Estonian defense forces returned to their units after a two-week holiday -- 187 of them have COVID-19 symptoms, all of whom have to get tested for coronavirus, and their future fate depends on the test results, the daily Postimees writes.
By the decision of the commander of the defense forces, Maj. Gen. Martin Herem, most of the conscripts who were called up in July and October were sent on a Christmas break from Dec. 18 to Jan. 3. Now, the conscripts returning from vacation had to fill in a health declaration, and on the basis of this, a total of 187 conscripts with COVID-19 symptoms have been isolated across all military units.
Although exact statistics on conscripts with symptoms of the disease are not yet available -- for example, the Navy is not yet back from scheduled vacation -- then as of Wednesday, there are 14 conscripts in home isolation, either as a COVID-19 positive or as a close contact, having not returned to the military unit.
At present, there are a total of 17 COVID-19 positive conscripts and 40 active servicemen and servants. As of Jan. 5, 5,598 COVID-19 samples have been taken in the defense forces, of which 370 have been positive. The defense forces do not keep records of those who have given a sample elsewhere, for example through a family doctor center.
If there is a COVID-19 suspicion in a unit, conscripts with symptoms are separated from others and close contacts are isolated. Conscripts in isolation will, if possible, continue their training on a unit-by-unit basis.
"If necessary, we need to deal with much more difficult situations than the current one. The defense forces do not abandon the defense of the state lightly," the chief doctor of the defense forces, Lt. Col. Targo Lusti, said.
According to him, COVID-19 has not significantly affected the conduct of basic courses and all the necessary training goals have been achieved.
To prevent the threat of the virus spreading, the defense forces use teleworking and video conferencing at the level of staffs, while other additional measures, such as isolation, keeping a distance, wearing masks, using personal protective and hygiene equipment, as well as training in smaller units are implemented, Lusti said.