Covid test results to be combined with those for 'flu, RSV starting Monday

COVID testing site signage.
COVID testing site signage. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

From Monday, those getting tested for Covid at public testing points will also receive results on their 'flu and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) status, all from the same test sample.

The rationale for combining the test results is a surge in flu, Olga Sadikova of the Health Board's (Terviseamet) influenza center said.

Sadikova said: "The incidence of influenza-like illness has increased," adding that respiratory viruses cause respiratory infections which carry similar symptoms to Covid, making it reasonable to test for these viruses at the same time in order to get a fuller overview of the epidemiological picture.

The tests, from any public Covid testing point, will cover the Influenza A and B, as well as RSV and Covid.

While a positive Covid result will result in both an automated call to the individual and a call from the Health Board itself, the results of the 'flu and RSV analyses are viewable via the digilugu national e-health platform.

While public tests are free, a preemptive tst for, for instance, travel purposes, can also be obtained and can include the Influenza A and B variants and RSV as well as Covid. These must be paid for, at testing points run by private sector firm Synlab.

Catching influenza early on is particularly beneficial, for instance as it can lead to anti-viral treatments being prescribed to a patient, which in turns minimizes complications of a bout with the virus; as with Covid, RSV infections can present with a wide variety of signs and symptoms ranging from mild upper respiratory tract infections (more common) to severe and potentially life-threatening lower respiratory tract infections which require hospitalization and mechanical ventilation. 

The results in all four categories are published simultaneously, on average within 24 hours of taking a test, as per the Covid-only tests operating since early on in the pandemic.

Covid testing points generally make use of Nasopharyngeal PCR swab tests; while Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid can also be analyzed, this requires abstaining from eating and drinking for at least an hour before testing.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

While the Influenza A virus primarily affects birds and some mammalian animals, some variants present in human beings too, while the Influenza B virus is known only to infect human beings, and also seals.

Influenza "season" in Estonia traditionally lasts from late October until the arrival of spring.

Information on testing for Covid is available from the Health Board in English here.

Synlab's site in English is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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