Finland willing to offer coronavirus assistance to Estonia

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Maria Ohisalo. Source: Rain Kooli/ERR

The Finnish government is willing to help Estonia with its struggle against coronavirus if the government asks for help, the Finnish minister of interior said on Thursday.

ETV's evening news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported that while speaking to journalists, Finland's Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo said: "I am worried about the situation in Estonia. We have discussed in the government that if Estonia should ask for help, I think it is important to help Estonians. So, if we can do something to help them, I think it is important that we do so."

Latvia and Lithuania both offered help to Estonia this week as the country went into lockdown and the situation in hospitals became critical. Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said Estonian coronavirus patients could be treated in Latvian hospitals as the country currently has "more beds than patients".

Data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows Estonia has a 14-day infection rate of 1,452 - the second highest in Europe - compared to Latvia's 429, Lithuania's 233 and Finland's 159.

There is also concern about Estonia's coronavirus rate amongst the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THI) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

THI's chief physician Taneli Puumalainen said Estonia is an example of how the situation can rapidly deteriorate. "Therefore, we hope that Finland will be ready to take even tougher restrictions in such a case," he said.

Finland will also extend its border restrictions, which restricts freedom of movement to everyone but essential workers, until at least April 17. This effects thousands of Estonians who move back and forth between the two countries to live and work.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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