State weighing leave for parents of arrivals from coronavirus-struck areas

Arrivals at Tallinn Airport.
Arrivals at Tallinn Airport. Source: Sander Koit/ERR

The Health Board is in talks with the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) regarding a plan to give parents of children arriving home from areas affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) two weeks' paid sick leave, which would allow them to stay home with their children.

Latvia decided on Tuesday to implement a system of two weeks' paid sick leave to parents which would allow children returning from areas affected by the novel coronavirus to remain at home and not attend school or kindergarten for a period of two weeks.

Health Board Deputy Director General Jelena Tomasova said on Vikerraadio broadcast "Uudis+" on Wednesday that the Health Board wants to implement a similar measure in Estonia as well.

"Talks are currently underway with the Health Insurance Fund regarding the latter likewise paying for parents on sick leave together with their children as a preventive measure, but right now this is a sort of matter of agreement, that we inform and request that people who have arrived stay at home if possible," Tomasova said.

She added that keeping children home from school or kindergarten is a little easier to accomplish, but with adults it depends on the nature of the work, as certain work can be done from home as well, but that isn't the case for drivers or factory workers, for example.

"We are calling on employers to be understanding, and that they be accommodating and allow for their employee to be at home for a two-week period," the deputy director general said.

According to Tomasova, the matter of whether the Health Insurance Fund will pay for two weeks of preventive sick leave for parents staying home with their children should hopefully be decided within the next two or three days.

Whether or not the coronavirus would spread to Estonia as the current school break concludes is difficult for the Health Board to predict, but according to Tomasova, there is a medium risk of the virus being brought to Estonia, but the risk of it spreading is low.

Arrivals to Estonia by plane with symptoms of the illness will be given questionnaires on the flight and taken to the hospital upon arrival, and contaminated persons will be further handled by Health Board employees.

It is impossible to guarantee that the covid-19 virus will not spread to Estonia, but according to Tomasova, the Health Board is doing everything it can to ensure that should the virus reach Estonia, the country's healthcare system is prepared and its laboratories equipped to diagnose the virus.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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