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Estonia: Saaremaa ‘corona island’ residents reflect on living conditions amid strict quarantine07:42

Estonia: Saaremaa ‘corona island’ residents reflect on living conditions amid strict quarantine

Estonia, Saaremaa
April 17, 2020 at 21:11 GMT +00:00 · Published

The Estonian island of Saaremaa is now known locally as "corona island" because of a large-scale local COVID-19 outbreak that has lead to a strict lockdown. The outbreak is believed to have followed a volleyball match on the island in March featuring an Italian team that was watched by 1,000 people. A champagne festival held on the island shortly afterwards is thought to have helped spread the illness.

The residents of Saaremaa explained to Ruptly how life on the island has changed since the lockdown, while the island itself is seen from above via drone footage on Friday. The head of Edukontor coworking space Kristel Oinberg-Kelder lives 56 kilometres away from the island’s main town of Kuressaare. In general, she said she is happy with her way of life under the current conditions.

"We are lucky to live close to nature. It's very quiet here. We don't feel that coronavirus has affected us in any way. We have four small children: two of them go to school and the other two go to kindergarten. Of course, there are a lot of worries but we are happy that we can spend time together," she said.

However, Kristel admits that the situation with coronavirus scared her at first. In addition, some of Kristel's relatives appeared to be infected but now they have recovered and feel much better.

Local entrepreneurs have also adapted to the conditions. The owner of a craft gin plant Tarlo Vicki said that he had to change his business strategy because of anti-coronavirus measures.

"Almost half of our sales were going through bars and restaurants. And all those bars and restaurants were closed immediately. So, basically what we did: we revamped our sales quite quickly. And now, a few weeks later, we already selling in most Estonian outlets and now also launched in Germany," he said.

However, there are also some citizens on the island whose professional activities have been practically unaffected by coronavirus. Urve Nogu, marketing director at a real estate agency, admitted that there wasn’t a big change in her working life, except that there were more household chores to do. She added that she took a coronavirus test but it turned out negative.

"It didn’t last long and was carried out remotely. Everything was well organised," Urve said.

A military hospital has been set up on the island to help deal with likely overflow from existing medical facilities.

So far in Estonia 1,459 people have contracted COVID-19 of whom 38 have died with the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

Estonia: Saaremaa ‘corona island’ residents reflect on living conditions amid strict quarantine07:42
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The Estonian island of Saaremaa is now known locally as "corona island" because of a large-scale local COVID-19 outbreak that has lead to a strict lockdown. The outbreak is believed to have followed a volleyball match on the island in March featuring an Italian team that was watched by 1,000 people. A champagne festival held on the island shortly afterwards is thought to have helped spread the illness.

The residents of Saaremaa explained to Ruptly how life on the island has changed since the lockdown, while the island itself is seen from above via drone footage on Friday. The head of Edukontor coworking space Kristel Oinberg-Kelder lives 56 kilometres away from the island’s main town of Kuressaare. In general, she said she is happy with her way of life under the current conditions.

"We are lucky to live close to nature. It's very quiet here. We don't feel that coronavirus has affected us in any way. We have four small children: two of them go to school and the other two go to kindergarten. Of course, there are a lot of worries but we are happy that we can spend time together," she said.

However, Kristel admits that the situation with coronavirus scared her at first. In addition, some of Kristel's relatives appeared to be infected but now they have recovered and feel much better.

Local entrepreneurs have also adapted to the conditions. The owner of a craft gin plant Tarlo Vicki said that he had to change his business strategy because of anti-coronavirus measures.

"Almost half of our sales were going through bars and restaurants. And all those bars and restaurants were closed immediately. So, basically what we did: we revamped our sales quite quickly. And now, a few weeks later, we already selling in most Estonian outlets and now also launched in Germany," he said.

However, there are also some citizens on the island whose professional activities have been practically unaffected by coronavirus. Urve Nogu, marketing director at a real estate agency, admitted that there wasn’t a big change in her working life, except that there were more household chores to do. She added that she took a coronavirus test but it turned out negative.

"It didn’t last long and was carried out remotely. Everything was well organised," Urve said.

A military hospital has been set up on the island to help deal with likely overflow from existing medical facilities.

So far in Estonia 1,459 people have contracted COVID-19 of whom 38 have died with the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

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