Government initiates further coronavirus measures

Places set out at a government Cabinet meeting. Photo is illustrative.
Places set out at a government Cabinet meeting. Photo is illustrative. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The government approved additional measures aimed at containing the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19, on Thursday.

The measures cover public information, early detection, and analysis of the economic impact of the virus, according to BNS.

"The authorities are keeping a close eye on developments related to coronavirus, and the state is doing everything it can to stop the further spread of the virus," Prime Minister Juri Ratas (Center) said Thursday, according to BNS.

"At present we are in a situation where, thanks to the responsible behavior of those infected, we have controlled, single-figure cases of the disease. Our main objective now must be to prevent a wider spread of the virus among the populace," he added

"In order to restrict cross-border spread of the virus to Estonia, we are going to expand body temperature monitoring on public transport at our borders, for instance. To rule out the spread of the infection in schools, kindergartens and other children's institutions, we must be ready to close their doors for two weeks if a virus case appears," he went on.

Early detection

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) is to provide a weekly update on the coronavirus situation in Estonia, government spokespersons said.

Kiik said that cooperation among authorities was functioning well so far, with a ministry crisis management team and a  workgroup for international passenger transport joining the Health Board (Terviseamet) and a governmental task force.

"The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Board are leading the resolution of the situation, and have established a  command center working seven days a week, in addition to being on operational 24/7 standby," Kiik said, according to BNS.

"Protecting public health is a national priority, and all the parties involved are basing their actions on this now," he added.

Risk Groups and public information

Thursday's cabinet meeting also focused on the needs of elderly and special needs people, as well as other risk groups, in collaboration with municipalities. Many of the coronavirus deaths worldwide have been among the elderly, and care institutions have received instructions from the Health Board to limit visits, to prevent the infection of risk groups.

The Ministry of Education and Research is to set out an action plan in concert with municipalities, should the need arise to  close kindergartens or schools for up to two weeks.

Population Minister Riina Solman (Isamaa) highlighted the role of civil society in protecting public health.

"Civil society organizations play a major role in situations like this, in both disseminating information as well as paying attention to those in need. I would like to express appreciation for those active members of civil society who have already found the possibility to make a contribution," the minister said.

Public events and economic ramifications

Public events can still go ahead at their organizers' discretion, but Health Board guidelines must be strictly observed at all times.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Bank of Estonia is to analyze the impact of coronavirus on the economy and the state budget. The government also awaits proposals from same, for reducing further negative economic impact from the virus.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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