Coronavirus testing extended to patients with mild symptoms

Carside coronavirus testing at Kuressaare Hospital.
Carside coronavirus testing at Kuressaare Hospital. Source: Foto: Margus Muld / ERR

Patients will mild coronavirus symptoms will be tested inline with the World Health Organization's recommendations and other countries practices so analysis can be carried out, said Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik on Tuesday. The government will also start working with private sector.

Kiik told ERR there is a plan to expand testing, but that this would only be done after a medical indication, such as a referral from a family doctor.

Although the number of tests may seem to have fallen, the Minister of Social Affairs said, over 1600 have been carried out and more tests are performed every day than the last.

"The issue is that the percentage of callers who get the test is likely to have fallen, because the focus is on emergency care resources for those who need the test the fastest, such as the chronically ill, the elderly and those with the most severe symptoms," he said. "We now have more lab capability, it has grown in many places."

Kiik said, unfortunately, testing someone for the disease is physically time-consuming and requires the use of personal protective equipment. Now, however, the approach is changing

He said: "We're no longer talking about hundreds, but thousands of tests being taken in weeks with a private service provider, so we're expanding significantly, it is a fundamental change in approach. It is not a question of orders, but of the practice of other countries, including WHO's recommendations, and also out of public expectation, we are expanding the testing methodology somewhat, that is, making it easier for people to take the test who may have less severe symptoms but who are not at risk."

Kiik added the priority is still given to those who need the test faster, i.e. the chronically sick, the elderly and healthcare professionals.

In order to carry out more extensive testing, in cooperation with the private sector, testing centers must be opened in several places throughout Estonia, where family doctor's can send patients.

The minister said the testing points are unlikely to reach each county, but the regional distribution will be set up in cooperation with the private sector, so that there would be three to four points all over Estonia, not focusing solely on the capital. In addition, there should be a mobile solution that moves between counties based on temporary need.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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