Aab: Procurement for PPE in progress, many items can be made in Estonia

Women at the National Library wearing masks and visors.
Women at the National Library wearing masks and visors. Source: Teet Malsroos / Eesti Rahvusraamatukogu

Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab does not agree with the position of the Health Board that Estonia does not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) and medicine for a possible second coronavirus wave in the autumn.

Aab (Center) said procurement is currently underway, and the capacity to produce personal protective equipment has also increased in Estonia.

The government has said that the 1 + 1 rule will apply from the autumn, meaning institutions, such as care homes, will have to stock a month's worth of PPE and the state will match the amount.

Andras Banyasz, chief specialist of the emergency department of the Health Board, said on Monday, there is not currently enough PPE or medicine in reserve.

Aab told ERR on Tuesday there is no physical stock of medicines at the moment, although they are covered by contracts with wholesale companies. 

He added the Ministry of Social Affairs is currently preparing to replenish various stocks. But when this happens depends on money. "But I do believe that we will definitely be better prepared for the autumn when it comes to a possible second wave," said Aab.

Estonian pharmaceutical companies are also developing different capabilities for the medicines that were used to alleviate the coronavirus.

In the spring Estonia prepared for a much worse situation than actually occurred in the country and PPE was stockpiled in large quantities which were not completely consumed leaving some stock left over, according to Aab. 

Surgical masks are the most widely used as they are needed by nursing homes, hospitals, government agencies, the police and have a monthly stock of 9 million. The country's central reserve is also 9 million. "We have about half of the stock because less was used. I think the situation of the agencies is about the same."

Approximately 30 companies have submitted tenders to supply PPE, said Aab, who hopes that the price of procurements will be significantly lower than in April or May.

On July 8, Jõgeva furniture manufacturer Softcom, which is able to produce fully inspected and certified surgical masks, also received a certificate. The company itself has said it has a production capacity of one million masks per month.

"In other words, in the case of new waves, Estonia does not have to rely only on goods delivered from China. Protective aprons, visors and various other devices are also produced in Estonia," said Aab.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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