Former health minister: Government has no clear plan to tackle coronavirus

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Riina Sikkut. Source: ERR

Neither the previous nor current government have had plans for how to manage the coronavirus crisis, opposition Social Democrat and former Minister for Health and Labor Riina Sikkut said on Wednesday.

Speaking on ETV's interview show "Esimene stuudio", Sikkut said the government does not have clear criteria on which to create new measures and, if it was her decision, she would implement all the proposals put forward by the government's scientific advisory council.  

"We can see that the previous government did not have it [a clear criteria], that the government does not have a clear plan, we do not know what the priority areas are, we do not know how decisions are made, what criteria are used. And if the government does not have a plan, it is essential to trust the experts and implement the recommendations of the scientific advisory council. What was decided yesterday is better, but it does not follow the recommendations of the council," said Sikkut.

Sikkut said she expected better and clearer action from the new government because it has the experience and the opportunity to do something differently.

"I was very hopeful when the new government formed. On the one hand, one coalition partner [Center] has all the experience in resolving the crisis since last spring - this is a competence that has developed over time - you can see how to make these decisions, what the effects are, you will get acquainted with all the infection factors. And on the other hand, the coalition partner [Reform] who watched the crisis from the opposition, has been critical and has seen how confusing the messages are," Sikkut said.

Asked what she would do if she was currently Minister of Health and Labor, Sikkut reiterated she would immediately implement the recommendations of the government's scientific advisory council.

"The government can involve our smartest people, they have the most information, they are in the best position to make decisions that affect us all. /.../ In a crisis situation, popular decisions which everyone supports cannot be made," Sikkut said.

She also said the government's messages need to be simple and people must be able to understand why restrictions are necessary.

"This crisis, which has been ongoing for a year now, is not a technical concern to solve. It takes a great deal of understanding of societal processes to implement measures effectively and make people understand what these choices are, what the rules are, why something is decided, to make it clear that everyone is being treated equally," Sikkut said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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