The beginning of July will mark the end of bidding for an extensive joint personal protective gear tender. Maximum procurement cost is estimated at €81 million.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab told ERR news program "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the framework tender will see the participation of hospitals, care institutions, state agencies and local governments.
They have been tasked with having a month's supply of protective equipment by September. The public administration minister has been tasked with ensuring another month's supply for all institutions in the form of central stockpiles and claims it has been done, with the rest to be procured using the framework tender.
Aab said that the tender should answer the question of whether Estonia has enough protective gear for a possible second wave of the coronavirus.
"The rough sum we have set aside is €81 million between all participants. It will not cost that much in the end. Today, suppliers are sending us their bids and we will make a decision in early July," the minister explained.
He added that Estonia can now also rely on domestic companies when it comes to protective equipment. One such is the Softcom furniture factory in Jõgeva. They are manufacturing surgical masks that Estonia was forced to import in the past.
"We have not been able to facilitate full production for various reasons so far, but project capacity could be as high as one million masks a month," said Andrus Toom, member of the board of Softcom.
Materials used to make masks became difficult to obtain in the coronavirus crisis.
"We have pursued serious cooperation with Estonian companies. We are perhaps seeing the creation of a small cluster of protective equipment makers, especially as concerns masks and materials used to make them," Toom said.
"The material used for the most crucial middle part of surgical masks, the price of which jumped 50 times in the crisis, is now being produced in Estonia, with Softcom using materials manufactured in Tartu," Jaak Aab said.
Andrus Toom added that the masks were tested in cooperation with TalTech and the Estonian Environmental Research Center. Because a surgical mask is a medical device, the manufacturing process and the end product must meet certain requirements. The masks are being tested in an accredited laboratory, with the results anticipated in a few weeks' time.
Editor: Marcus Turovski