A confederation of local governments in Ida-Viru County, which has the highest rate of coronavirus per capita in Estonia at present, wants the central government to provide it with 20,000 one-use face-masks in an effort to curb the viral spread.
Not only is the virus still spreading, but the health care system in Estonia's easternmost county is close to meltdown, the regional crisis committee, spearheaded by the Rescue Board and the Ida-Viru County local government association (Ida-Virumaa omavalitsuste liit), says.
Public awareness of the issue and safety precautions should be raised, and enforcement of mask-wearing, which is mandatory nationwide in enclosed public spaces and on public transport, but not universally observed by any stretch of the imagination, should be beefed up via the courts if necessary, the organizations say.
In a joint statement to the prime minister, Jüri Ratas (Center), himself quarantining after coming into contact with a carrier last week, the bodies said: "Local governments and regional state agencies in Ida-Viru County plan to run a week-long campaign to promote mask-wearing, dialog with members of the public who are not wearing a face-mask and also provide them with a mask free-of-charge. We believe that a week's focus on mask-wearing will help curb the viral spread in Ida-Viru County."
The address was also sent to public administration minister Anneli Ott (Center) and requested 20,000 one-use masks to be sent to the region.
As of Monday morning, Ida-Viru County's per 100,000 inhabitant 14-day coronavirus rate stood at 978.7, up from a little over 800 a week earlier and the highest rate of Estonia's 15 counties (Harju and Tartu counties' rates are around half the figure – ed.).
Ida-Viru County has a population of a little over 136,000 and a population density of 45.71 people per square meter, the third highest nationally by both indicators, after Harju and Tartu counties.
As of last Saturday, Ida-Viru County is subject to additional restrictions on assembling for sports, leisure and hobby activities. These can now only be done on a one-to-one basis (compared with groups of up to 10 in the rest of the country), with some exemptions in place for family members, special needs children and activities involving the defense forces.
Editor: Andrew Whyte