The Health Board no longer considers it reasonable to keep testing people who display no symptoms of the coronavirus. Students that are deemed close contacts should no longer go through PCR testing, but rather get a rapid test.
Health Board acting director-general Mari-Anne Härma said the workload at coronavirus testing centers has increased significantly due to the infection wave. One proposed solution is that students would no longer have to go through PCR testing if they are deemed close contacts.
The Health Board also does not think people displaying no symptoms of the coronavirus need to be tested, either. "In the long-term, the Health Board does support us only testing based on symptoms instead of identifying asymptomatic virus carriers," Härma said.
At the same time, she pointed out that testing is still justified in some cases, such as in the healthcare sector. "There are situations, in which we simply have to test to make sure the infection is not carried over to vulnerable risk groups," the Health Board official said.
Omicron has increased infections, but Delta predominant in hospitals
Härma said that infections have mainly increased in schools and other childcare establishments, which has led to a larger workload for testing centers and family physician centers.
Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) confirmed that the Ministry of Education and Research has agreed with schools that after a student is in contact with an infected person, they must stay at home and take a rapid test on the fifth day. "If that test is negative, the student can return to school, if it is not negative, they must go through PCR testing," Kiik said.
Härma said Estonia has reached a high risk level in terms of hospitalization rates. But most hospitalized patients are elderly people infected with the Delta strain, which is why the Health Board will contact those infected with the variant first going forward.
Härma said it is still difficult to say if and how much hospitalization rates will increase. By an optimistic scenario, hospitalization rates would reach their peak by the start of March. But she pointed out that younger people tend to get infected with the Omicron variant, Denmark's example shows that the milder strain also causes a rise in hospitalizations.
75,000 vaccination certificates to expire by February's end
From February 1, the validity of the coronavirus vaccination certificates will be reduced from a year to nine months. Booster dose certificates are still valid for one year.
Ministry of Social Affairs e-service development and innovation department adviser Aurora Ursula Joala said the entire EU vaccination certificate system will change in the start of February. Therefore, people that have received a booster dose as their second dose must apply for a new certificate in the Patient Portal.
This is valid for people that received a dose of the Janssen vaccine as their first dose and for those that have recovered from the coronavirus and have been vaccinated with one dose.
Joala said the certificates of 19,600 people will lose their validity in the start of February and 75,000 certificates will be invalid by February's end.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste