In the near future, people will be able to take a COVID-19 rapid test under the guidance of staff at pharmacies. The pharmacy will issue a document certifying a negative test result, valid within Estonia for 48 hours, which can be presented at public events instead of a coronavirus vaccination certificate.
The government adopted an order imposing additional measures and restrictions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that stepped into force on August 26. In addition, the order provides for the possibility of carrying out supervised self-testing at pharmacies.
Supervised self-testing means that a person comes to a pharmacy, takes the test under the supervision of a member of the pharmacy staff, and the pharmacy then issues a certificate based on the results.
The certificate is valid for use in entertainment and catering outlets, health care establishments, spas, and all other venues where the presentation of a COVID certificate is required - which from August 26 is all public gatherings of any size.
The pharmacy must ensure the dispersion of customers on the premises, plus the availability of personal protective equipment, in order to minimize the risk of other visitors to the pharmacy getting infected.
The pharmacy must have a separate room or an area separated from the sales area, for testing. The option of advance booking is recommended, and computer and IT support are required to physically issue the certificate.
Ly Rootslane, head of the Estonian Association of Dispensing Pharmacists (EPAL), said that the Health Board did not send its instructions to pharmacies for the conduct of supervised self-testing until late on Tuesday evening.
"Pharmacies are altogether willing to offer people the supervised self-testing service, but first we must ensure that the service offered complies with the Health Board's guidance and all the additional measures and restrictions imposed by the government which came into force from August 26," Rootslane said, adding that for pharmacies, this is a solution which has not been implemented in the Estonian health care system or in pharmacies before.
She said that, understandably, the creation of such a capacity takes some time and, in view of the established requirements, such a service definitely can not be offered at all Estonian pharmacies. Of the members of the EPAL-owned outlets, about 50 pharmacies are compliant.
It is not yet possible to carry out self-testing in pharmacies on Thursday and Friday, Rootslane said, adding that the public have been inquiring about the possibility of self-testing at pharmacies since the relevant government order was adopted.
"We can promise that we will do our best to gradually start the service early next week. It is very important for us to ensure that the health of pharmacy visitors is protected, and self-testing at the pharmacy must not reduce the safe availability of medicines at the pharmacy," the head of the EPAL said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino