Health Board: Mental health and relationships most vulnerable in crisis

Health Board emergency medicine chief Urmas Sule on ETV's
Health Board emergency medicine chief Urmas Sule on ETV's "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Health Board emergency medicine chief Urmas Sule said on ETV's political discussion show "Esimene stuudio" on Tuesday that mental health and relationships are even more vulnerable than health in the coronavirus crisis.

"The most endangered part is not our health when it comes to the virus, but rather our emotional health and relationships. In the situation we are in today, relationships can go sour quickly and once they do so, it is not easy to restore them," Sule said, adding that the topic is something to focus on at all times.

Sule said society wants two things at once - restrictions to be implemented and for restrictions to be eased. "How do you play the two sides in a way that feeds the wolves and keeps the sheep safe, it is complicated. If it was possible to ease restrictions in a way that gets people to follow the main principles or the general restrictions, they should be done. Nobody knows what these easings could be, because people need emotional release before all," he noted.

The former Pänu Hospital chief said there are many things that should not be done in this situation. "What we should try to avoid, is that leaders - whether heads of state, local government leaders or just people active in media - do not slip with being examples. If we slip on example here, it would spread like wildfire and there is no way to turn it back," Sule said.

He said that while government restrictions are easy to measure, peoples' behavior is even more important. "The crisis has been long, people are certainly tired of it. Restrictions are not done for the' sake of doing restrictions, they are implemented so that people would avoid contact with each other and through that, try to stop the spread. Making the decisions presumes that it reaches peoples' heads and that people follow them," Sule said.

The Health Board official told "Esimene stuudio" host Andres Kuusk that while the number of hospitalized patients (492 as of Tuesday) is scary, there is a readiness of 755 COVID-19 beds.

Sule said he is most worried about the rapid increase in infections in Harju County. "If we cannot get a brake on this, it will amplify across Estonia," he noted. The Health Board emergency medicine chief said harmonizing restrictions across Estonia was a logical step.

Speaking on vaccination difficulties, Sule said there are actually no major problems noted and it is too early to make any conclusions yet. "We can find something to reproach in any action today. But I would dare say that the large picture, how we act, is not bad. And that we are admonished while running that our step should be longer and that is not how you run, that is OK as well. We are in this Estonian-like, normal routine. The most positive thing is that the topic is gathering attention," he noted.

Sule said that all vaccines have one certain effect - they prevent serious illness, adding that it would not be reasonable to give people a choice of vaccines. "They are European Union approved medicines and this means they are equally good. If we were to try giving people a choice in vaccines, it would create such confusion, it would be hard to chew through," he said.

The government is discussing new restrictions and will reach a final decision on Thursday.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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