Because the European Commission's joint tender for personal protective equipment is dragging on, the Health Board is looking for alternative suppliers. The first two shipments should reach Estonia in the near future.
Director General of the Health Board Merike Jürilo said that the first shipment of masks is scheduled to arrive in Estonia on March 27, followed by another one in five or six days' time.
The board said it has signed two contracts for 50,000 FFP3 respirators in early March and another 85,000 FFP3 respirators. The six-month framework agreement holds the possibility of ordering another 260,000 masks in the future.
Jürilo said, however, that global supply difficulties mean that certainty will only arrive once the goods are physically here.
"We have two contracts with suppliers, and next week will show whether it will prove possible to take delivery. I dare not say we have the masks before I hold one in my hand. But we remain hopeful in that the two deliveries will be made," she said.
Estonia is participating in a European Commission joint procurement for respiratory protection equipment, gloves, protective clothing and goggles. The time frame provided by the Commission suggests the tender could be postponed into May.
Jürilo admitted that "the European process is going to take some time."
"We entered the joint procurement in February. The first tender failed and a new one was called and executed in stages. Some deliveries will come sooner than others. We are not satisfied with the tender producing results in April and May," Jürilo said.
The director said the board has been looking for alternatives and signed a framework agreement with a local manufacturer who will help out with more intricate masks used by ambulances and hospitals.
The Health Board said on Sunday it expects to take delivery of 200,000 triple-layer surgical masks in late March, while supply delays are to be expected. "We are also in talks with FFP2 suppliers and doing everything in our power to make sure they arrive in Estonia in the coming weeks," the agency said in a press release.
The board is getting personal protective devices mainly through Estonian suppliers and Chinese manufacturers. Jürilo said there is hope that Germany has lifted its protective equipment export ban and production is gradually being restored in China.
Things critical for the police
The police have the necessary protective equipment for now, while the situation is nearing a critical level," said Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Deputy Chief Priit Pärkna.
"We still have protective equipment for the moment, but we are waiting in line for new items. The situation is critical in terms of stockpiles also for the police," he said.
Pärkna said that police officers have now taken ill with the coronavirus. "There have been five confirmed cases in the police. We know where they are and the people they've been in touch with," the deputy chief said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski