Volunteers of the Alarm Center's crisis 1247 hotline launched on March 16 have answered 20,000 calls, and over the past week more Russian-speaking callers have been in contact.
Over the past week, the number of Russian-speaking callers has increased substantially, now accounting for one-third of all calls, the Alarm Center said. In total, calls to the 1247 coronavirus crisis hotline so far number around 20,000.
Director general of the Alarm Center Katlin Alvela said that the past week confirms that the Russian-speaking community's awareness about this information channel has grown.
"We have begun supplementary and more targeted awareness-raising activities among the Russian-speaking population. As a result, the number of calls by Russian speakers has increased to one-third," she said, adding that questions remain similar among both Russian and Estonian-speaking callers.
Alvela noted that the Alarm Center increased its capacity for Russian-language calls when the number thereof, particularly by elderly residents, surged as a result of a text message regarding movement restrictions sent by the government on March 25.
Questions asked most frequently by Estonian and Russian-speaking callers alike regard movement restrictions, closures and circumstances under which leaving one's home is not permitted. Both segments likewise inquire about the conditions under which testing for the virus is carried out. Russian-speaking callers' questions also regard public support as well as applying for documents and the issuing thereof.
The hotline 1247 is manned by some 100 volunteers from the Ministry of the Interior, Academy of Security Sciences, Rescue Board, Ministry of the Environment and the Naiskodukaitse women's arm of the Kaitseliit volunteer corps.
The main objective of the hotline is to reduce the burden on the 112 emergency number and the 1220 family physician hotline. The information relayed via the hotline on the emergency situation and the spread of coronavirus has been nationally approved and also available online at www.kriis.ee . Questions that cannot at present be answered are relayed to the Government Office, which will help obtain answers from the relevant public authorities.
The service is also available in English.
Editor: Helen Wright