The coronavirus pandemic has reached a stage where it is no longer wise to monitor tens of thousands of people a day, as the hospital load no longer rises in response to the increase in infections as it has in the past, Hanna Sepp, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Health Board (Teriseamet) says.
Sepp said that according to the new procedure, family doctors will no longer have to direct people to perform PCR tests. This is the case if the person has previously tested positive in a rapid test or if the person has symptoms and someone close to them has already been infected with Covid.
"There is definitely confusion and clarification at the beginning. And I stress that everyone still has the opportunity to go for a PCR test. But if the patient agrees and the family doctor thinks so, it is possible to avoid it. "They have been vaccinated and have not yet had the virus. They can use the PCR test to create a EU Covid certificate," Sepp said.
Sepp added that if a person has taken a rapid antigen test and it is positive and has contacted a family doctor, the family doctor can confirm the diagnosis. However, it is not possible to create an EU Covid certificate on this basis, which is why PCR testing should not be available to people who are not vaccinated.
Sepp added that if fewer people are tested with PCR and the pressure is more on the rapid antigen testing, it does mean some kind of a compromise on how good the overview of infections happens to be.
"The less we test, the fewer confirmed cases we have. But we're in a pandemic phase where we have to decide what makes sense. There's no point in monitoring tens of thousands of people anymore because hospitals are no longer responding to infections on that scale. We're now focusing on hospital patients."
Speaking about the second big change, i.e. that healthcare workers can come to work earlier from isolation, Sepp said that these are currently exceptional cases due to the shortage of healthcare workers.
At the same time, Sepp admitted that in addition to healthcare workers, the circle of people receiving the exception may expand.
"The proposal to extend the circle came from the fact that vital service providers have indicated that they have business disruptions. But this could also happen in extreme cases, not in widespread use. In very extreme cases, when a very important service may not be provided," Hanna Sepp continued.
Asked whether the time limit should be lifted, i.e. whether people should be allowed in restaurants and nightclubs after 11 p.m.
Editor: Roberta Vaino