The Tartu University Hospital offers paid COVID-19 tests that do not require a referral from a family doctor from October. Without a referral, the test costs €75, with testing also made available for companies and local governments.
People can get tested for a fee at a site next to the hospital building at Nikolai Lunini 6. An online or phone reservation is needed, head of the Tartu University Hospital's joint laboratory Anu Tamm said.
The person will be given an appointment and receive an invoice via email that the hospital recommends paying before showing up for testing. It is impossible to pay for the test using cash.
"We do not expect people who are sick or have symptoms to come here for their test. It's simply that people need certainty before they can go somewhere in some cases, which is when they can pay to get tested. If a person has taken ill, the sensible thing to do is to get a referral from the family physician and get tested that way," Tamm said.
Paid testing will remain available for the entire coronavirus period. People have not been enthusiastic about paying for testing so far. Tamm described it as fortunate as the option is there primarily for healthy people who want to get tested just in case.
Tartu County in good condition
There are very few people with COVID-19 in Tartu County, compared to Harju County, Ida-Viru County or Võru County. Professor of medical microbiology and virology Irja Lutsar said that the virus has not been brought into the county and local people have behaved responsibly.
"Looking at infection in general in Estonia, we see that it is very local. We had an outbreak in Tartu that started in night clubs. The clubs were closed and young people stopped going. It was an outbreak among younger people who did not pass the disease on to their parents and grandparents, causing it to end. The University of Tartu admitted all foreign students and while they included COVID-19 positive people, they all observed precautions and self-isolated," Lutsar said.
Nevertheless, Lutsar described the possibility of getting tested without a referral as a positive move.
"The more we test, the more we learn. There are people who are worried for whatever reason, and giving them this opportunity will help alleviate those fears," the professor added.
Lutsar admitted that while the looming flu season could cause undue testing, it is nevertheless useful for alleviating fears.
"However, we need to make sure people who absolutely must get tested and who are referred to us by family doctors are not be blocked by these volunteers."
Editor: Marcus Turovski