Estonian president discusses organization of crisis assistance with heads of Alarm Center

  • 2020-03-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid spoke by video conference on Monday with the staff of the Alarm Center, which has been very busy over the past week and has done very well despite the constantly changing situation.

"Understandably, people have a lot of anxious questions about both the coronavirus and emergency measures, but call 112 only in the event of a real emergency or when the situation is critical -- this number should be kept for those in need right now," the president said according to spokespeople.

The president pointed out that a new emergency helpline for those wishing to get information and recommendations about the coronavirus or emergency measures has been opened at 1247. The head of state said it has to be taken into account that both the general emergency line 112 and the information helpline at 1247 are under great pressure and that people should not interrupt a call when it is not answered immediately, but continue waiting until the call is answered. 

"I also urge everyone that since rescue organizers today are doing their work in a very difficult and constantly changing situation, callers should not be angry with them but say a few warm words of gratitude instead if possible," the president said. 

She said that unlike last week, the ambulance service will not go and test everyone who suspect themselves to be having the virus. Where last week the aim was still to prevent the local spread of the virus, the objective now is to slow down the spread of the virus over as long a period as possible. The capacity for testing must today be kept for people of the risk group and health workers in the first place, Kaljulaid said.

The head of state said that the emergency response center will advise residents suspecting the disease to talk to their family doctor first.

"Should testing by an ambulance really be necessary, doctors will decide about it. There is no point in demanding this from emergency response personnel at the Alarm Center or being angry with them about it," the president said.

The head of state urged everyone doing work important for the functioning of the society in the private or public sector to not discontinue doing their work unless they have fallen ill or have received instructions from their institution to start working remotely.

"A lot depends on all of you today. This holds true also for kindergarten workers. There have already been questions that are they second rate people then because, unlike school teachers, they cannot stay home automatically. In fact, it is the opposite -- it depends on your work whether police personnel, rescuers, shop workers, doctors, nurses and many others can go to work in the morning with a peaceful mind or not. Therefore I hope that kindergartens and municipalities will find a middle way if necessary between protecting older kindergarten workers and supporting the parents doing critical work on the other hand," Kaljulaid added.