Estonian PM: New coronavirus situation analysis due early next week

  • 2020-03-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas has said that an expert assessment that will explore the impact, spread and possible duration of COVID-19 coronavirus in Estonia is due on his government's desk early next week. 

Appearing on the "Esimene stuudio" ("First Studio") political discussion show on public ETV television Thursday night, Ratas said that the government's crisis committee has set up a working party of virologists and other scientists for the task.

"The report covers what this coronavirus can mean for Estonia and how long it will last here, and we should receive its final findings early next week," Ratas said according to the English-language news portal of public broadcaster ERR.

The prime minister added the first indications for ending the state of emergency, currently set to May 1, would be a downturn in the number of cases.

"When we see the number of infections, the angle of attack of rising infections, start to break, then these are the first indications where we can say that the situation is going to get better. Only then can we come to making changes to the very strong economic measures and restrictions. Today, we can help the economy through our package of economic measures," the prime minister said.

The government announced two billion euro economic rescue package on Thursday; Ratas said another was on the horizon.

"It comprises about 7 percent of Estonia's GDP. But that means we're going to bring another economic package to the table in the coming months, because both have to be reflected in the supplementary budget, and today we launched a supplementary budget process," Ratas said.

"I think that is not enough, I think we need to stimulate the economy further still. Support from local authorities is certainly important, public investment is also important, and also certain regional investments and projects," he said.

"It is clear that the economic forecasts for this year are no longer valid, and for sure tax receipts have gone down a lot. Right now we are waiting for the spring economic forecast from the Ministry of Finance, which should hit our desks on April 3," Ratas added.

Ratas said the government would also start discussing leasing agreements and home loans.

"It is our desire to do everything in this crisis to ensure people do not lose their homes. For this, we will not go for cuts in the first instance, but implement public investment which gives people jobs and bread on the table," he said.

Ratas also said states have not overreacted with their restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus spread, and recent developments have also been a major lesson for the EU.