Popov: Testing as many as possible 'right call'

Dr. Arkadi Popov, head medical officer of the Health Board's coronavirus emergency situation task force.
Dr. Arkadi Popov, head medical officer of the Health Board's coronavirus emergency situation task force. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

According to government emergency medical chief Arkadi Popov, the goal of a planned mass coronavirus testing is to find out how many Estonian people have developed antibodies to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Appearing on ETV political discussion show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday evening, Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said that: "In my opinion, one element of an exit strategy is mass testing."

Popov explained on "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday that he is aware of the government's idea of mass testing, but care should be taken to distinguish between different tests.

Current tests done by both Health Board (Terviseamet) and hospitals are carried out to discover new coronavirus cases. According to Popov, mass testing concerns finding antibodies in blood.

"We have to test the population in order to find out where we are in regard to immunity. The right call is to test as many people as possible to understand whether we face the risk of reinfection," Popov explained.

"Testing the population shows us whether a person has developed antibodies to the virus, indicating that they were at one time a carrier. We will know if there will be a second wave [of infections]," he added.

According to the medical chief the state must continue operating according to plan. "The most important thing is to maintain a cool head to evaluate the situation and take appropriate measures. We must have a plan. The plan must be tactical and strategical and we must follow it. If the situation changes, we can change the plan but to operate without one would mean certain failure," he added.

Popov said that both the Health Board and the state have responded to the crisis in an appropriate way. "Even if the measures taken by the government seemed inadequate at first, the amount of hospitalizations would be far greater [without restrictions]," Popov said.


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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