Widened referral based corona virus testing has started in Estonia 20.03.2020
The Estonian State, family doctors and private medical companies have started collaboration to launch a free corona virus wider testing in 8 cities in Estonia with the family doctor’s referral.
The 1st drive-in testing case has been opened in Tallinn and the following sites will be opened in Tartu, Pärnu, Kuressaare, Viljandi, Narva and Kohtla-Järve. Also a home testing option will be available very soon. If a person gets sick he has to call his family doctor who will evaluate the need for testing according to the protocol of the Estonian Health Board. If a family doctor considers it necessary to test the person, he will make an electronic referral. A special testing call centre will call the patient with the doctor’s referral to agree the place and time for giving his analysis. A nasopharynx sample will be taken from a patient with the referral while he is in his car. The patient needs to have his ID card with him. The results of the test will be announced to the patient via calling by the testing centre within two working days and also added into his digital health record.
The Estonian Minister of Social Affairs, Tanel Kiik: „In Estonia the number of tests made has been in increasing all the time and we are ahead of many countries in this aspect. Based on the WHO recommendations and the expectations of the public the Estonian state is widening the cooperation with the private sector even more for testing. In testing the medical indications are continuously very important and it means that only on well justified cases will a family doctor provide the electronic referral to a patient for COVID-19 testing. The main focus for testing stays in the most important risk groups (elderly and chronically ill), health care personnel, social workers and other people related to COVID-19 blocking.”
The chairman of the board of SYNLAB, Rainar Aamisepp: „First I would like to mention that the cooperation between SYNLAB Estonia and the Estonian Health Board has started more than two weeks ago when we started COVID-19 diagnostics as their back up laboratory. In case of the new wider testing it is an important fact that the state, private medicine companies and family doctors have joined their forces to block spreading of the virus. Family doctors are deciding the need for testing and order the analysis, SYNLAB, Medicum, Qvalitas, Corrigo, IVKH and the Kuressaare Hospital arrange taking the analysis form the patients, SYNLAB arranges the logistics and analysing the samples. In addition to the drive-in locations we are also arranging the option for taking samples at home in case the person is not able to drive to these named locations. Jointly we have created the testing call centre. A doctor’s referral will go to the call centre, and based of this referral the patient will be contacted to book the time for testing and later to announce the results. Active cooperation and trust among the partners is the key to subdue the crises.“
The Estonian Health Board has compiled concrete instructions in collaboration with the family doctors that can be used for diagnosing corona virus without the test only based on the symptoms. Therefore a family doctor will send to testing only the patients that would really need to be tested.
A member of the Estonian Family Doctors Association, Dr Argo Lätt: „I would like to ask the people calling their family doctors and trust their decision. It is very important to understand that also in case of wider testing opportunity the responsible behaviour helps best to block the spreading of the virus, not testing. Therefore – please really stay at home, wash and disinfect your hands. In case of easier symptoms of the virus one can cure himself at home. The test and its result will not change the disease. In case of questions please consult your family doctor.“
Attention! The steps to follow in case you feel sick:
- If you get ill, call your family doctor! Your family doctor evaluates the need for testing and gives health advice.
- In case your family doctor finds that the testing is necessary for you, he/she sends an electronic order into the corona testing call centre. The testing call centre will call you to agree the place and time for your test. Wait for the call! There are drive-in test facilities in 8 cities.
- Please go to the named testing location at an agreed time with a car and have your ID document with you. Only the patients sent by the family doctor´s referral will get tested.
- Wait for the test result. You will be called and the result will also be available at digilugu.ee.
- In case your test result is positive, stay at home, follow the instructions of your family doctor and in case your health situation worsens consult again with your family doctor or call the ambulance, 112.
The most important thing to block spreading of the virus is to avoid contacts with people that have the symptoms of the disease, not to go to the places with many people, follow the usual hygiene rules and stay at home if you are ill until you get really well. In case you fall ill please call your family doctors or the family doctor advice line 1220, in case your health gets worse – you feel lack of oxygen or cannot breath normally, please call the ambulance 112. The ambulance will not take the tests any more but will come only in case of emergency to help the patients.
The laboratory will test COVID-19 disease (Coronavirus Disease 2019) from one’s nasopharynx sample to identify if the patient has got the corona virus SARS-CoV-2. It is the WHO and the Estonian Health Board proved methods also used by other hospitals.