Social Affairs Committee finds no reason to declare coronavirus emergency

Tõnis Mölder (Center).
Tõnis Mölder (Center). Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

On Monday, the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu received an extraordinary overview of its preparedness to deal with viral diseases and concluded that there is no reason for an emergency in Estonia due to the coronavirus.

Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee Tõnis Mölder (Center Party) said although the coronavirus is now widespread in Europe the probability of a possible epidemic spreading is estimated to be low.

Mölder added that the virus itself is not really anything extraordinary.

"The majority of cases are mild, with only 13 percent of those affected becoming more severe and 6 percent becoming critical," Mölder said.

The chairman of the commission said Estonia has acted professionally and vigorously, and although the risk assessment has changed, there is no reason for panic or to declare an emergency.

"The most important thing is that you always have to be careful and follow the recommendations of the health authorities, but nobody needs to make big changes in the level of fear of the disease," said Mölder.

Helmen Kütt (SDE), Vice-Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee, noted that it was encouraging to hear at the meeting that the authorities concerned today are serious about the outbreak and are cooperating with each other, which is improving.

Kütt said, however, the lack of information for older people is a cause for concern.

"Elderly and chronically ill people are the most susceptible to the disease, but they are also the part of the population that does not follow social media on a daily basis, if at all. Nowadays, the vast majority of social media outreach with recommendations and necessary phone numbers would reach everyone's inbox," Kütt said. 

"While there is no reason for panic today, ignorance and fear are the causes of panic. However, this kind of direct mailing would certainly give people a sense of security."

Representatives of the Health Board, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, the EHIF, the Hospital Association, the Defense Forces, the Police and Border Guard (PPA) attended the meeting.

One case of coronavirus COVID-19 has been identified in Estonia.

As of Monday, approximately 60 people have been tested for the virus. All of these tests have turned out to be negative.

Those tested have either been an at-risk area, had relatives or had friends who have been to an at-risk area and started developing symptoms.

The risk areas currently identified by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control are China, Northern Italy (Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont), Iran, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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