National public information phone lines have been consolidated under the one number, 1247, set up in spring originally to deal solely with the coronavirus pandemic, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Friday evening.
1247 will continue to provide assistance on coronavirus issues, and the public information service is available in English.
The former environmental information line (1313) and highways information line (1510) now no longer function, and their services have been transferred to the single, centralized 1247 number. Tens of thousands of calls had been made to the old numbers annually, AK reported.
Uses for 1247 other than for COVID-19 information might include situations relating to storm conditions, such as falling trees or power lines on the highway, or dead wildlife (larger animals such as elk require authorized removal if they happen to expire on or by the road – ed.), including in urban areas.
Help for apparently injured or stranded wildlife can also be obtained using 1247.
The change also simplifies phone numbers the public need to remember – the emergency number, for contacting the police, ambulance, fire service and coastguard, remains 112, and now the general information number is 1247 alone.
Himot Maran, Environmental Inspectorate (Keskkonnainspektsioon) adviser, told AK that: "Essentially nothing changes; exactly the same calls should now go to 1247, which had previously gone to in 1313."
Maran said that the environmental helpline was primarily used to report offenses, including poaching, illegal fishing, and illicit tree-felling, and added that he hoped the number change would not lead to confusion.
1247 was set up in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic began in Estonia, originally providing information about testing, travel restrictions and other queries about the virus. The rationale in choosing the number was simply "1", followed by 24/7, i.e. it works round-the-clock. Calls to 1247, including from landlines, are free, and services are in English as well as Estonian (an initial recorded message which appears before being connected to a live operator explains that calls to 1247 can be recorded and saved).
Editor: Andrew Whyte