Demand for COVID-19 testing has created significant queues

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Drive-through testing in Ida-Viru County. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

An incerase in the demand for coronavirus testing has created long queues in testing locations across Estonia. While five-day waiting periods in Rakvere and Saaremaa have been put out, queues are still long in some regions as healthcare workers themselves have fallen ill.

People going for COVID-19 testing in Saare County a week ago had to wait up to five days for the next chance of getting tested. Other testing points in northern Estonia, organized by healthcare firms Synlab and Medicum, have also seen queues extended longer than the promised maximum of two days.

Medicum board member Tõnis Allik said the situation in Saaremaa and Rakvere is under control now. Solutions included extending the opening hours of testing points and moving the testing point from Rakvere Hospital to a tent outside the building.

The problem still lives on in Põlva however. Põlva Hospital itself manages the testing point, but as there is a large number of infected staff at the hospital, there is not enough staff to man the testing point.

"As of right now (Monday afternoon - ed.), the first available times are on Wednesday," Allik commented on the situation at Põlva, adding that the company is hoping on solving the queue issue in the coming days.

The situation in Tallinn is not as dire with times usually available for the next day. To increase capacity to meet the recent increase in infection, a second testing location will be opened aside the Saku Suurhall sports arena. Queues for paid testing are somewhat longer however, as last week's school break saw much travel and therefore an increased need for testing.

Synlab handles up to 7,000 physician referrals in one day, directing people to testing. Testing capacity has seen a steady 10-20 percent increase weekly.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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