Estonia will be ready to start vaccinating residents against COVID-19 on December 27, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Thursday.
Kiik said at the government's press conference that Estonia is prepared to start vaccinations at the end of December and that an EU marketing authorization for a vaccine is a prerequisite to starting vaccinations.
The minister said hospitals have made preparations and the state has drawn up lists of the people to be vaccinated first.
He said the first batches of vaccine to arrive in Estonia will probably be small and will be used only for hospital staff. Next, vaccination will start in care homes.
Work is also underway to bring forward the issuance of the marketing authorization for the vaccine of vaccine manufacturer Moderna, Kiik added.
The social affairs minister also echoed Deputy Director General of the Health Board Mari-Anne Härma who said on Wednesday that the infection rate in Estonia is stabilizing.
Kiik said the number of people infected with the coronavirus has been slowing down in recent weeks. He said last week the growth of new cases was 8-10 percent compared to previous weeks where there have been increases of between 20 percent and 50 percent.
The minister called on everyone not to hold parties this Christmas and to follow social distancing rules so life can start returning to normal in January.
"If we work harder at Christmas and we can do it all, I'm sure the new year will be brighter," he said.
The graph below shows the number of new cases of coronavirus diagnosed each week. It is part of ERR News' weekly round-up which is released every Monday and discusses the previous week's data.
Ratas, Reinsalu: Declaring emergency situation was never discussed in fall
The possible declaration of a second emergency situation in Estonia was never discussed this fall, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said at the government's press conference on Thursday.
Ratas said that the government makes its decisions in very close collaboration with the scientific advisory council and that on this Tuesday, the council wished to evaluate the impact of the new restrictions first.
"The government has not discussed declaring an emergency situation," the premier said.
Reinsalu meanwhile said that an emergency situation as such is not a tool for combating the virus. He said the decision to declare an emergency situation was made in spring because at the time the country did not have necessary laws and other legal tools for resolving the crisis.
"This is not the situation that we have at present," Reinsalu said.
The foreign minister also noted that the possibility to declare an emergency situation has never been discussed in the government in the fall.
The government at a sitting on Thursday agreed to allocate close to €2.5 million to the Health Board for SARS-CoV-2 testing, COVID-19 vaccine cold chain management and additional extraordinary costs.
Editor: Helen Wright