Kaljulaid not to attend Estonian Congress anniversary over COVID-19 fears

President Kersti Kaljulaid.
President Kersti Kaljulaid. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

President Kersti Kaljulaid withdrew from attending the Estonian Congress anniversary event in Tallinn on Saturday after it was revealed two participants at a conference in the U.S. which she attended earlier this week have the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Kaljulaid attended the Congress of the American Israel Public Relations Committee (AIPAC) held in Washington in the first half of the week. On Friday the organizers said two participants had been diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

It is not yet known if Kaljulaid attended the conference on the same day as the virus carriers or if she or her team had any contact with them. The president's spokesman Taavi Linnamäe said she would not attend Saturday's anniversary event to minimize any potential threat.

"We are currently in the process of finding out whether we were there on the same day or in the same room as the infected participants at AIPAC. Today, the virus is known to infect others by direct contact via a drop infection," said Linnamäe.

He said the president's delegation have taken preventive measures throughout the trip, constantly disinfected and adhered to increased hygiene standards. "No one in the delegation has any symptoms," Linnamäe added.

Congress of the Kersti Kaljulaid speaking at the American Israel Public Relations Committee (AIPAC) Source: Office of the President.

"We have consulted with the National Board of Health and doctors and, upon their recommendation, will conduct appropriate tests when we arrive in Tallinn, and we will continue to monitor people's health after the test results become available," the President's communications adviser said

"Today, the head of state was scheduled to appear on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Estonian Congress, but as the results of the test are not yet clear, the head of state will not go there to minimize the potential threat," he added.

AIPAC organizers informed participants, speakers, and congressional offices by email that the infected individuals had attended the conference. Among those attended were US Vice President Mike Pence, Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo and dozens of congressmen. 

Kaljulaid returned to Estonia on Saturday after a week-long working visit to the United States. 

On Saturday, the concert "People's Freedom", dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Estonian Congress, will take place in the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn. 

Archbishop Urmas Viilma, Chairman of the Estonian Committee 1990-1992 Tunne Kelam, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Slovak Prime Minister 1998-2006 and President of the Martens Center Mikulaš Dzurinda will attend. Kaljulaid was scheduled to give a speech.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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