Confusion surrounds validity of coronavirus tests before hospital treatment

There is confusion around hospital visits on Mondays which require a coronavirus test no later than 48 hours in advance because many testing sites are closed over the weekend.

Valga County's Hospital asked a patient from Tallinn to bring crutches and a negative coronavirus test when they came for surgery. Finding crutches is not a problem, but when to take a test created some questions, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Monday.

The patient did not know who was supposed to give them a referral or if they needed to pay for the test himself or where to take it. The doctor said that it is possible to take the test on a Friday but it wasn't clear if the result is would also be valid on Monday.

"If they take a test on a Friday, nobody will send them away on a Monday," head of Valga Hospital Margus Ulst said.

Even though few cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Valga County, Ulst said that, due to changes in circumstances, they have to make changes to the current work arrangements which include some patients presenting a negative test result.

Ulst said the patient coming for these procedures should ask for a referral from their family doctor and that a test can be taken close to home.

According to the directives set by the Health Board, the test needs to be taken a maximum of 48 hours before the surgery or appointment. Spokesperson Eike Kingsepp said that in order to come to the hospital on a Monday, a test taken on a Friday morning is fine because the time of the result is taken into account.

The Health Board confirmed that the referral note to get tested needs to be given by the hospital where the surgery or appointment is taking place. This is how it is arranged in the North Estonia Medical Center where from the beginning of October, there's a new order that people coming for scheduled treatment need to be tested two or three days before coming to the hospital.

"The testing is organized by the hospital. If it's a person from Tallinn or Harju County, they can take the test here, on the spot, or if it's somebody from another county, then we give their data to our partner Synlab who will arrange the testing in the county where the person lives," Mait Altmets, head of the Infection Control Service of the North Estonia Medical Center, told AK.

If the result of the test does not make it to the hospital, it does not mean the surgery will be canceled. If necessary, a new test will be taken on the spot or the result can be found in the database.

"We advise being sensible about your behavior in the weeks before the planned treatment, do not to go to crowded places, parties whenever possible. When using public transport, a mask should be used," said Altmets.

East-Tallinn Central Hospital has a so-called gray area for those coming from further away in Estonia, where patients are tested in the morning and at lunch. Patients are invited there either one day before hospitalization or in the morning of the day of hospitalization.

The opening hours of public coronavirus testing points depend on the number of referral notes received and the spread of the virus. Head of Public Testing Communications Gerly Kedelaugu said the coming weeks are planned as follows:

Haapsalu: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hiiumaa: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays according to demand
Kohtla-Järve: Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Kuressaare: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sundays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Mustamäe: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Narva: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Paide: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pärnu: Monday to Friday two to three hours, on weekends if necessary
Rakvere: Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Saku: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sillamäe: Monday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Punane Street in Lasnamäe: Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lauluväljak: Monday to Friday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m., Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tartu: Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Viljandi: Two to four times a week one to two hours
Võru: Two to four times a week one to two hour


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright

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