Doctor: Anyone back from foreign trip with symptoms should be tested

Margus Punab.
Margus Punab. Source: Ülo Josing/ERR

Margus Punab, director of the Men's Clinic at Tartu University Hospital (TÜK), believes that anyone who has returned from travel abroad and is displaying symptoms of illness should be tested for coronavirus immediately.

"We've seen increasingly frequent complaints that testing is refused for people displaying symptoms because they have not returned from Italy, Iran, South Korea or China," Punab said. "The reality is that essentially no countries are safe anymore. I believe that we should immediately begin testing anyone who has returned from travel abroad and is displaying symptoms."

He would also like to know whether Estonia's capacity for coronavirus testing has improved beyond just a couple dozen tests per day by now.

"I sincerely hope that in the couple of months given to prepare, we've developed the capability for sufficient volumes of testing," the doctor continued. "If this capacity remains limited to the previously stated couple dozen tests per day, then someone needs to take responsibility for this."

He also found that when it comes to those returning from foreign travel, a voluntary two-week quarantine no longer suffices.

"Regardless of age," Punab said. "Then each institution wouldn't have to declare separately that they are restricting foreign travel. Such restrictions are basic preventive actions at this point."

As the spread of the disease has grown rapidly in Sweden, the clinic director would like to know what Estonia's leading shipper, Tallink, has done to help prevent the spread of the virus.

He also found that the information on the Health Board's homepage, at least, is several days out of date, and that the recommendation to restrict international events is no longer sufficient.

"There is no need to generate panic, but the situation has changed by now, and measures being implemented must change accordingly," Punab said. "Work done in the outreach phase was done well! I sincerely hope that preparations were being made concurrently for the next stage as well. What's saving us is the fact that we are on the periphery of Europe and a dead end for transport. People are relatively well-informed as well. But if the parties involved don't quickly change strategies, then we are at serious risk of falling below par when it comes to our opportunities."

To date, a total of 16 cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been diagnosed in Estonia.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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