Top military doctor: Health board changing coronavirus testing criteria ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Health Board crisis center manager and EDF doctor, Lt. Col. Ahti Varblane.
Health Board crisis center manager and EDF doctor, Lt. Col. Ahti Varblane. Source: ERR

The Health Board is planning to change the criteria for COVID-19 coronavirus testing, medical manager of the board's crisis center said on Wednesday, removing the requirement that only the elderly or chronically sick are tested. Family doctors will make the call on whether a patient should be tested, instead.

Lt. Col. Ahti Varblane, manager of the Health Board's crisis center and who is head combat medicine and trauma doctor with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), said the changes are to take into effect Wednesday.

"As the situation is changing rapidly, we want to alter the principles of testing. We will take away the requirements on age and co-morbidities, and, if everything goes according to plan, will start on this as early as Wednesday," Lt. Col. Varblane said, speaking on ERR's Vikerraadio broadcast "Reporteritund".

"This means doctors can send people for tests. Of course there must be symptoms, since without symptoms a healthy person will not tested," he went on.

Varblane said it is necessary to change restrictions on testing, since the situation has changed compared with the period when the virus first appeared in Estonia, and when the Health Board started fighting the virus. 

"At that time there was a principle that we wanted to find everyone who had contracted the virus, isolate them and locate those they had been in contact with. The hope was that the disease could be prevented [this way]. The spread of the disease however signaled that we could not continue with this method," he added.

Lt. Col. Varblane added that there was hope that the propagation could be fought on a regional basis too.

"On Saaremaa, there is a large-scale incidence, the battle is going on at full tilt; in other counties, the situation is still relatively quiet. If we get a new overview again, we will probably need to deal more closely with isolation regionally, in those places where there are very few patients, with the hope that infections there will then be even lower," he added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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