Prime Minister Jüri Ratas said the spread of the coronavirus continues to pose a threat to the health of the Estonian people and the functioning of society and the economy, and slowing down the spread of the virus depends on every single person. While the approaching summer gave us strength in spring, we can now rely on the incoming vaccines.
In his political statement given to the Riigikogu on Tuesday, Ratas said that almost seven months after the end of the emergency situation in spring, Estonia has largely learned to live with the coronavirus.
"We still need to focus on staying at home together for some time to come, and it will be necessary until we can defeat the COVID-19 disease with the help of vaccines, medicinal products, and responsible behaviour," he said.
Ratas said in a situation where the increasing crisis affects all aspects of society, the Government has to constantly look for the balance between society and the economy, consider any restriction and mitigation measure that may be necessary, as well as the consequences of all closures and openings.
"In making these choices, we have tried to keep Estonian life as open as possible, but at the same time we strive to protect the health of all of us and still limit the spread of the infection. We also have to support the daily coping of people, look after their mental health, secure our economy, ensure a good level of education, and make every effort in other ways," he said.
The prime minister confirmed that decisions and choices are made in excellent and close co-operation with officials and researchers who advise the Government. "We communicate with the Health Board, the Research Council, and all relevant authorities on a daily basis to make measured, considered, and contextual decisions that are best suited to the situation," he stated.
Ratas said trusting experts has been the only right and effective way. "We have managed to keep our infection rates and deaths that have occurred due to COVID-19 lower than in most European countries, even in the course of the second wave. We remain committed to ensuring that our health care system would withstand the pressure of the increasing infection rate and that we could provide the necessary treatment to all residents of Estonia – both planned and emergency treatment, and both for COVID-19 patients and others," he said.
Ratas emphasised that although the situation concerning the spread of the coronavirus differs by region, this crisis is our common concern and it is also in everyone's power to slow down the spread of the virus. "This crisis is not the concern of individual counties, but the concern of our entire society, and the problem can only be solved in the best possible way if we join forces. While during the spring wave we were certainly encouraged by the approaching summer, then now we can count on the incoming vaccines," he said and added that if everything goes the way we can currently hope for, the next autumn will be different both in Estonia and the world.
So far, he has called on all people to help each other and follow the guidelines of health experts. 'The farther apart we stay, the more difficult it is for the virus to spread further. But keeping distance may not be enough or not always possible. Even in such situations we can mitigate the risks: we can wear a mask in crowded places, wash our hands, and use the HOIA mobile app. I strongly encourage you to use caution and common sense so that we would all have beautiful and heartfelt yet safe Christmas holidays,' Ratas said.
The prime minister also thanked all health professionals, rescue officers, police officers, staff of the Emergency Response Centre, teachers, social workers, and staff of the Health Board, as well as state and local government officials, researchers, employees and employers, and all others who are working hard and contributing to activities that would eventually help us, as a society and each person individually, out of the crisis in a safe manner.
Editor: Helen Wright