Government emergency medical chief Arkadi Popov said on ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nädal" that he is not afraid of death, but is worried that contracting the disease would rob him of the opportunity to do his job.
"At first they asked if I could come and help out for a bit - for a couple of hours a day, that's not too bad. Let's do it. Then they called in to say that a command will come and in the evening, the command came. In the morning, we talked about a couple of hours and after the order, here I am - the day starts at 6 a.m. and will end at 12 a.m," Popov recalled how he became the government emergency medical chief.
The task of the medical chief is visiting hospitals in order to see how they have prepared for the crisis. Popov has commended the readiness of Rakvere and Pärnu hospitals, next up is visiting hospitals in Southern Estonia.
Even though Popov visits the facilities to share his experiences as a colleague, he is sometimes seen as an inspector.
"They have been a bit scared as of late, but it is normal. We have always been good colleagues and I hope we will be so in the future. I am here to help and coordinate," Popov reiterated.
According to friends and co-workers, Popov uses humor to resolve conflicts. Popov himself says that without cracking jokes, a person in a stressful occupation could become depressive.
"He has a clever approach, he's a sterling example of achieving goals by being balanced and good. He is never confrontational, never impolite," said Lilian Lääts, who runs North Estonia Medical Center's ambulance center.
"He has quick wits, he's flexible. At the same time, he's demanding. He can fit human lives into algorithms and boxes, which helps in this profession. He also likes going in-depth, he's always reading scientific magazines in order to best put his knowledge into practice," according to Chief medical officer at Tallinn's ambulance service (Kiirabi) Raul Adlas.
There exists a possibility of the emergency medical chief himself catching the virus. Popov says that he does not fear death, rather that contracting the disease would rob him of the opportunity to do his job.
"In this context, yes, I am afraid. My deputy, my good colleague Ahti Varblane, is not here today because he was just tested. I really hope the test comes back negative. If it is positive, I will be the next to test, followed by everyone here. We can't do anything about it. We are all human and we keep visiting these questionable places to keep life more interesting," Popov said.
He has not regretted accepting the position. "Of course not. It is interesting. This crazy activity is quite okay," Popov added.
Editor: Anders Nõmm