Student diary: Deciding about “going back” and getting reliable information on COVID-19

Me, Efe, on the left and me, Ege, on the right. The photo was taken at a private event, when these were still widely common. Photo from a private collection

Dear UT Blog readers,

First of all, how are you? Hope you’re all safe and feeling better! 

We’re Efe and Ege, second-year medical students at the University of Tartu. Our names might sound familiar to you – and they would, if you’ve read this post! Anyway, we’re from Turkey and have been living in Tartu for almost 2 years now. 

Now the world surrounding us is literally shaking with the on-going pandemic, COVID-19. So, according to the WHO, pandemy is the worldwide spread of a new disease when most people don’t have immunity to it. We heard many stories from the epicentre of this pandemy, Wuhan, which seemed very far, far away from the portion of world we’re living in.

However, this didn’t take long, and the virus unfortunately spread to every continent. When COVID-19 arrived to Europe, it’s debatable whether countries took adequate measures – but what’s obvious is that it brought fear and anxiety to everyone’s hearts. 

In this hard time, when social life almost stops to prevent the spread of a virus, we need information. We are curious about what’s happening in countries where our families are, or about the place we’re currently residing in. All of us had, have, and will have these questions in our heads.

The first question that usually comes to mind is: why are we here? The key point that made us stay here during the outbreak is definitely the uncertainty that it brought to our lives. Although there are very strong predictions, no one exactly knows how the situation will evolve, and, up until the time when things get clear, the safest option for us was to minimize the risk of acquiring an infection. 

Indeed, this wasn’t the easiest choice that we’ve made, it took days of video-conferencing with our parents and family, evaluating all of the options about the risks and benefits. Also, it’s still an uncertainty whether we would need to travel back due to border closure issues – so now, we’re following the dynamics and let them lead the way, while we’re concentrating on our own well-being. 

On the other hand, we kept reminding ourselves that this break is not given as a holiday, but rather that classroom teaching was moved to an online environment. Thus, we also needed to stay in a place where we can continue concentrating on our studies thoroughly – and in this particular case, Tartu seems and feels like the right place. 

So today, we wanted to talk a little about the sources that we trust and follow, since internet and social media provide individuals with a broader range of “uncontrolled” information. The information all over the internet – not all of it true and reliable – could make some of us feel upset about the situation, like it did when we read many conspiracy theories about the outbreak.

Hence, it is sometimes really hard to find sources which are high in credibility, reliability, and validity. Here are some suggestions, which we use every day to get updated without becoming hypochondriac! 🙂 

1. All in all, we should strictly follow the instructions and updates about the state of emergency being declared by the Estonian government. You can follow Terviseamet, the Health Board’s website, for the most recent facts.

2. The newest information from the University of Tartu can be found here.

3. Also, local news agencies can provide you with new regulations, happenings, and stories about this outbreak. Whenever you’re reading from these agencies, bear in mind that checking the source is essential.

4. If you’re interested in following the situation around the world, WHO has created a site where you can see answers to frequently asked questions, travel advice, and situation reports, which are updated daily. These data are constantly renewed by member states’ daily reports.

5. Certainly follow the updated information shared by the diplomatic missions of your country, such as embassies and consulates: They are in close contact with their citizens abroad in situations like this. Get their emergency number (if available), and continue to follow the news in your country too! 

6. Finally, we receive an immense amount of messages through social media – voice recordings, videos, some numbers. If you can’t check the credibility of data, then there’s no reason to trust in it! 

Thank you so much for reading through this post! We will be writing on different topics throughout this “social isolation” time, such as how we are trying to stay active and spend our time inside, so keep following us via the UT Blog!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep up the positive vibes! 
Please take great care of yourselves! 
#StayHome #PüsiKodus

Ege & Efe 

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