Ida-Viru Central Hospital, which serves a region with a population of 150,000, is prepared to take on patients infected with the novel coronavirus, but hospital directors are asking anyone belonging to a risk group for the virus not to come to the hospital themselves, but to call an ambulance instead.
Ida-Viru Central Hospital is one of Estonia's medical institutions equipped to analyze test samples for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus behind the now-pandemic coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Chief doctor Toomas Kariis stressed that family doctors cannot test for the virus, and these tests are not conducted at the hospital either; instead, paramedics take samples from patients in their homes.
"A sick person has to remain in isolation, and the best place to be in isolation is at home," Kariis said. "And if one has a justified suspicion that they may be sick with the coronavirus, paramedics will drive out, take a sample of your nasopharyngeal cells and will get either a negative or positive result. Negative results come back a bit quicker; in the case of positive results, we need to conduct additional testing, and that takes more time, but within 48 hours we will definitely have information confirming or refuting their illness."
The chief doctor stressed that it is only worth testing people belonging to risk groups.
"Testing must be clearly medically indicated," Kariis said. "First and foremost we will test those with an actual risk of having contracted the disease. That means they've com from a region that has been declared an at-risk region, or it is known that they have come in direct contact with someone diagnosed with the disease. There is no reason to test just out of curiosity, as the result will not affect treatment — one gets better as it runs its course."
As of Friday morning, no cases of coronavirus disease had been confirmed in Ida-Viru County.
As of Friday, Ida-Viru Central Hospital has banned patient visits in order to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Editor: Aili Vahtla