Prime Minister criticizes Health Board's handling of pandemic

Prime Minister and head of the emergency situation Jüri Ratas (Center).
Prime Minister and head of the emergency situation Jüri Ratas (Center). Source: ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) says he is dissatisfied with the work of the Health Board (Terviseamet) during the coronavirus crisis. Ratas also criticized a decision to let a volleyball tournament go ahead on the island of Saaremaa, which involved a visiting Italian team at a time when the pandemic was already widespread in that country.

Ratas, who is also head of the emergency situation declared on March 12 in response to the pandemic, made his remarks on the "Otse Postimehest" live show, a webcast from daily Postimees, on Tuesday, BNS reports.

Ratas noted that many agencies in Estonia could have behaved much more professionally and effectively in this crisis so far.

"I think that is one lesson which should be put on the table at some point when this crisis is no longer at its peak," Ratas said.

"In hindsight, the lesson is that this volleyball game should not have taken place in Saaremaa. Could this have meant fewer infections on Saaremaa? I do not think we have that knowledge today, either, but yes, of course the authorities, and not just the national authorities, should have done everything to prevent the competition from taking place there," he said.

Soon after the tournament, the first COVID-19 cases began to be reported on the island, which soon became by far the worst affected region of Estonia. At present Saaremaa has a reported incidence of coronavirus of 163.71 per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with a rate of 9.78 per 10,000 in Harju County, the most populous region of the country.

Ratas also referred specifically to the work of the Health Board.

"The management of this whole crisis has been good in certain sectors of the Health Board, but there are also places where it could have been done better. This is probably not the place where we are going to cut up the structure of the Health Board and move people from one place to another,"

Ratas declined to comment on whether the board's director general, Merike Jürilo, should step down, BNS reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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