Minister: COVID-19 lessons learned from spring being applied in autumn

Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) on Wednesday's
Social affairs minister Tanel Kiik (Center) on Wednesday's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) said that while things could have been done better in spring time as the coronavirus pandemic started, lessons had been learned and the government was acting on an even keel now autumn was here.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio", Kiik said that while the government had not overreacted to the coronavirus situation with its restrictions in autumn – which include barring late-night alcohol sales – in spring, when the pandemic first hit, the case had been different.

"In spring – with the wisdom of hindsight - there were many areas where things could have been done differently," Kiik told presenter Andres Kuusk. 

"We didn't have the information at that time. We lacked complete information about the disease then; and next, certain decisions got made through fear of the so-called darkest scenarios. Today, we know that these scenarios did not materialize. But we do not know what would have happened if we had made those decisions differently," Kiik went on. 

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) has dubbed the 2021 state budget the budget which will overcome the coronavirus, ERR's online news in Estonian reports. Ratas' social affairs minister said that this would indeed be the case. 

"We will certainly help to curb the spread of the coronavirus, given that health care will get over €200 million from next year's budget - extra money for the Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa), various investments into hospitals, costs incurred by combatting COVID-19, strengthening the health service, tests etc. I think it's a pretty good budget," Kiik said.

Kiik noted that knowledge of the nature of the virus is necessarily better than earlier in the year, with schools and shopping malls open and scheduled hospital treatments going ahead. 

While the temptation might be towards lockdown, this would not be sustainable, Kiik said. 

"It is very easy to shut everything down and say that you must not meet others, everyone has to stay at home, the police and the Defense League and other state organizations will be organized. But I think this is not very viable. It is not sustainable from an economic point of view, nor in terms of health and mental health, in terms of culture. We have to keep up with the spread of the virus with restrictions and steps, perhaps not to overreact or under-react." 

Nevertheless, mass sales drives in shopping malls and similar potential super-spreading events should be avoided, Kiik said. 

In 2021, the situation regarding vaccines and the protection of the most at-risk groups in particular will be better than 2020, he added. 


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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