1,000 defense volunteers aiding authorities in emergency situation

Women's Voluntary Defense Organization (Naiskodukaitse) volunteers at a coronavirus testing point in Viljandi.
Women's Voluntary Defense Organization (Naiskodukaitse) volunteers at a coronavirus testing point in Viljandi. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Around a thousand Defense League (Kaitseliit) and Women's Voluntary Defense Organization (Naiskodukaitse) volunteers have already put in around 15,000 working hours in the coronavirus pandemic emergency situation, Baltic News Service reports.

The two organizations have been working with the Health Board (Terviseamet), the emergency call center and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) in the two-and-a-half weeks since the emergency situation was declared, with 40 Defense League volunteers recently joining PPA patrols on Saaremaa, the worst-hit region of Estonia in the pandemic so far.

"The state and communities continue to need our help in implementing measures that the government and public authorities have established for curbing the outbreak, and stopping the spread, of the virus," said Defense League commander Brig.-Gen. Riho Ühtegi said.

"It is our duty to provide this help also when others are beginning to tire." he continued.

The Women's Voluntary Defense Organization has a varied mandate, participating at border inspection points and on Estonia's southeastern border, answering coronavirus hotline (1247) calls, and attending COVID-19 carside testing stations. The Health Board's crisis headquarters and hospitals have also seen Naistekodukaitse involvement, as has distributing information leaflets to the public.

The women's defense league have also launched a free smartphone app called "Be prepared" (Estonian: "Ole valmis"). The app contains information on the emergency situation in Estonian, Russian and English.

The 40 Defense League volunteers involved in activies on Saaremaa come from the Defense League's Saaremaa district itself. President Kersti Kaljulaid signed off on their deployment at the weekend; they will be aiding the PPA in checking compliance with the restrictions, stricter on Saaremaa than on the mainland.

The Defense League is backing up the PPA with 150 volunteers, performing border control duties.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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