Health board chief doctor: we are well prepared for second COVID-19 wave ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Dr. Arkadi Popov  on Tuesday's edition of
Dr. Arkadi Popov on Tuesday's edition of "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Head of the Health Board's (Terviseamet) crisis team Doctor Arkadi Popov says that Estonia is better prepared for any second wave coronavirus than it might have been had other strategies been followed.

Speaking on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio", Dr. Popov said that this was largely thanks to experience gained in the pandemic so far.

"We really know what needs to be done, and what needs to be done a little differently. Additionally, we are planning our future at the moment, and we are discussing what else we need to be better prepared," he said.

Dismayed about attacks on Health Board

Doctor Popov also commented on his dismay at attacks made on the Health Board's work during the crisis.

"I am sad to be constantly hearing and reading that the Health Board has done everything wrong. I actually see the dynamics of the disease and the epidemic in Estonia, and I see the results. The role of the Health board has been huge in reaching the stage we have now."

The board's chief doctor was speaking in the light of comments made by Isamaa MP Aivar Kokk (Isamaa), chair of the Riigikogu's finance committee, that the Health Board would need a fast reboot ahead of any potential recurrence of the virus in the autumn, adding that it had made many mistakes during the crisis so far.

"A fish always starts to stink. As of now, the management is choosing subordinates and if no good team is present, a restart should be done in the autumn," Kokk said on Vikerraadio's "Reporteritund" on Tuesday.

Finland border reopen brings risks, but measures in place

In terms of future readiness, Dr. Popov said that hospitals should be ready, but a large capacity might not be required.

"[Being prepared for a second coronavirus wave] requires maintaining a certain readiness in emergency departments to treat patients who are potentially infected with COVID-19," he said.

"Whether this would persist throughout the summer would be demonstrated by our epidemiological situation. If we were to get no more positive samples over a 14-15 day period, we can consider that, among other things, perhaps such a large volume of emergency room readiness is not needed," Dr. Popov went on.

With Finland announcing this week it was opening up its borders to Estonian workers who commute there, Popov said that he was wary of new infections emerging as a result, though noted that measures imposed are quite stringent, reducing risks.

"The measures are relatively strict. A ferry may not have the same number of passengers as normal. There will be special routes for people to move around the ship, etc."

Doctor Popov also noted that while an increasing number of people walking the streets was now visible, a residual fear of the virus remained.

"This fear is found ordinary people and even doctors, who should serve our patients. It still needs to be overcome. Time, and very good procedures, will help," Dr Popov said.

As for his own future, Dr. Popov said he hopes he will be able to return to his regular job after the emergency has ended, and continue to treat people.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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