Health Board: State wants to conserve coronavirus protective equipment

head of the Health Board's northern regional office.
head of the Health Board's northern regional office. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Health Board (Terviseamet) says the state would resist large-scale coronavirus comprehensive testing because the stocks of protective equipment for personnel would be depleted too rapidly. At the same time, the state is prepared for the worst-case scenario, a Health Board spokesperson said.

Whom to test ultimately doctors' call

The Association of Family Doctors (Perearstide selts) reported late on in the week that a coronavirus test will be used when a person is seriously ill with symptoms including a fever, dry cough, breathing difficulties, but also if they are older, over 80 years of age.

However, information which the Health Board said was drawn up in conjunction with the association put the at-risk group in terms of age starting from 60.

The Health Board says that it is up to family doctors to make the call, ultimately.

"There is no strict prescription here, be it 80 or 60. It is up to the family doctor to make that decision. If he or she sees that this person meets the criteria for undergoing a coronavirus test, he or she will prescribe that," said Ester Öpik, head of the Health Board's northern regional office told ERR current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Friday night.

In a situation where not all people exhibiting potential coronavirus symptoms are now tested, "Aktuaalne kaamera" also looked at how those with symptoms might In fact have other ailments like pnemonia, mandating iffereent treatment.

Again, Öpik said this was the family doctor's call.

"Family doctors are the first point of contact here; they not only deal with COVID-19 patients or potential infections, but they also treat their regular patients based on their own complaints and the stage of exacerbation," Öpik said.

At the same time, the state wishes to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, Öpik said.

"Some simulations have shown that if we compare the situation with the flu, for example, over 10 weeks, about 2,000 people might need hospitalization - a very bleak scenario - and about nine percent of these might need intensive care, or about 250 patients," Öpik said.

Procurement of personal protective equipment is underway, but if some countries impose an export ban on these, Estonia may see its resources of these depleted.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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