A central question in the battle against COVID-19 is a possible increase in daily testing capacity. Most tests conducted in Estonia are analyzed in Synlab's labs, capable of 8,000 tests a day, but the company intends to increase that ceiling to 10,000 by December.
There are two active testing companies in Estonia currently - the Health Board (Terviseamet) and Synlab. The capacity in Health Board laboratories however is capped at a few hundred, Health Board director Üllar Lanno said.
"Meaning, the tests that have been called by us - that is complete testing in detention facilities or care homes - these tests are analyzed by us as long as the lab capacity remains," Lanno said.
The remaining tests are analyzed by Health Board partner Synlab, with an average of 5,000 tests analyzed daily throughout last week, November 9-15.
Synlab Eesti chairman Rainar Aamisepp said: "If there is a need to double the capacity, it could be done rather quickly. We conducted 8,000 tests in the busier times, that has not been needed yet. We do not test for Finland currently. So, our entire testing capacity is Estonia's to use."
To handle the recent numbers of new cases, Synlab is planning to increase their daily testing capacity to 10,000 by December.
Aamisepp said: "We were testing to a very large extent up until mid-October. All Finnish tests were done here by us. So if we take it that there have been some 650,000 coronavirus tests conducted in Synlab's Tallinn labs, then 300,000 of those have been for Estonia and the rest for Finland."
Finnish tests are now being analyzed in Synlab's affiliate labs. The company is however planning on increasing testing capacity furthermore because neighboring countries have also asked for assistance.
The Synlab chief said: "In addition to us having tested and still testing in Finland, we have also been contacted from Latvia and Lithuania. We have a larger plan on increasing testing capacity to 20,000 daily. As we did with the help of our specialists in Finland, creating the possibility of 20,000 tests a day, we are trying to do the same here in Estonia."
Aamisepp added that capacity can be increased by automatizing work processes. In addition to that, software is in development to create a traceable and verifiable process.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste