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Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik presented to the government the suggestions on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

On the 28 of February, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik sent the Members of the Government the suggestions on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The workgroup led by the Minister of Social Affairs also proposed to expand the regional capacity for testing against the coronavirus and install infrared cameras to the airport and harbour to detect the potentially infected persons among those arriving from risk areas. 

“The quick response of Tallinn EMS and West Tallinn Central Hospital to localise the coronavirus case discovered yesterday showed that the healthcare system is prepared to prevent the virus from spreading. At the same time, we have to be ready for more similar cases,” said Chair of the Workgroup, Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik. “The workgroup gathered yesterday and deemed necessary to increase the readiness and capacity of competent authorities as well as the efficiency of communication even more. It was also agreed that public spaces should have more options for hand disinfection.”

The workgroup made the suggestion to increase regional capacity to test against the coronavirus. In addition to the laboratory of the Health Board, in the first stage, Tartu University Clinic must also be have the capacity to test against the virus, and the capacity is also considered for Ida-Viru Central Hospital and Pärnu Hospital.

The workgroup also saw as a necessary measure to install infrared cameras to Tallinn Airport and Old City Harbour to detect potential infection carriers from risk areas in order to, if necessary, medically examine them. Also, the Ministry of Social Affairs will also summon the International Passenger Transport Workgroup.

The workgroup supported the recommendation by the Health Board to enable people from risk areas, upon agreement with the employer, to remain absent from work for 2 weeks to monitor their health. If you suspect having the coronavirus infection, contact your family physician or call to the family physician advisory line 1220.

Extending the school holiday or closing education institutions were not seen as necessary by the workgroup. Each education institution has the right to make a deliberate decision and adjust the organisation of teaching accordingly. The workgroup supported the recommendation by the Health Board that students arriving from risk areas should be enabled to study from home for 2 weeks after arrival.  

The workgroup also supported the recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Health Board for people not to travel to risk areas (primarily China, northern Italy, Iran, Singapore, Japan, South-Korea) and in general reconsider their travelling needs.

At this stage, the workgroup did not find it to be justified to restrict or ban cultural or sports events. However, the organisers of events should implement stricter hygiene measures, such as additional options for hand disinfection.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Board will specify the need for replenishing stocks, primarily with regard to consumables (disinfectants, protective equipment, medicinal products, etc.). The workgroup suggested to cover the costs incurred with implementing such measures. The initial additional costs from prevention of the coronavirus come from the purchase of infrared cameras, personal protective equipment and disinfectants, and additional human resources. The workgroup led by the Minister of Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, presents the necessary calculations and additional requests.

The meeting of the workgroup were attended by the experts of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health Board, Health Insurance Fund, Ministry of the Interior, Rescue Board, Police and Border Guard Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance.

The government will discuss the proposals of the workgroup on Monday, 2 March.

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