TESTING FOR THE VIRUS
How to get tested for coronavirus, and who can get tested and why?
- Any patient with symptoms of a viral upper respiratory tract disease is referred to testing via family physicians, irrespective of their age, any concomitant diseases, and whether or not they have health insurance. This includes those patients who are not registered in the lists of any of the family physicians.
Any patients with symptoms of a viral upper respiratory tract disease (including those who have a family physician as well as those who do not) may contact the family physician advisory line by calling 1220 (Mon-Sun between 08:00-22:00, including public holidays). If necessary they will be referred to COVID-19 testing by a physician.
- Anyone who arrives in Estonia from a COVID-19 risk country can get themselves tested for coronavirus at Tallinn Airport, the Port of Tallinn, or the border crossing points at Narva, Luhamaa, or Koidula in order to be able to return to work and cut down the duration of the period in which they will be required to remain in self-isolation. Anyone who arrives into Estonia by road or through the Port of Paldiski can book a testing time by contacting the public testing call centre on 678 0000 (Mon-Fri 9-17). Read more »
- The work of testing patients before carrying out any special medical tests, procedures, surgeries, dental care procedures, etc, is organised if it is deemed to be necessary by the individual healthcare institution that is treating the patient.
- Anyone, including all asymptomatic individuals, will be referred to testing by their family physician before they can be admitted to a social welfare institution or a nursing home.
Any clients who are transferred from one social welfare institution to another will be referred to testing by the Health Board’s regional departments.
- Any clients of social welfare institutions who exhibit symptoms of a viral upper respiratory tract disease will be referred to testing by their family physician or by the Health Board’s regional department.
- Any employees of social welfare institutions, including interns and volunteers, will be referred to testing by the Health Board’s regional departments prior to the commencement of their work. Employees of social welfare institutions who exhibit respiratory symptoms may be referred to testing by their family physician or through the Health Board.
- In the case of epidemiological circumstances becoming apparent, the Health Board’s regional departments will organise the systematic testing of all individuals who are connected to the affected social welfare institution, dorm, shelter, work collective, etc, if this is deemed to be necessary.
Testing, and the appearance of symptoms
- If you experience any symptoms which, as a rule, appear between five to six days after being infected, it is highly important that you stay at home and call your family physician or the family physician advisory line (1220). In some cases an infected individual may already be infectious for one or even two days before the symptoms appear. Your family physician will assess whether or not you need to be tested and will give you any of the health-related advice you may need.
- If your family physician decides that you should be tested, they will submit an electronic order to a laboratory and the laboratory will call you to agree upon the time and place of testing. Wait for the call or book a test via the online reception service. Please read further information below »
Tests can be taken on the weekends and on public holidays as well.
- Bring an identity document with you and go to the agreed place by the right time. Nonlaryngeal samples can be given based on an electronic referral at the agreed testing site and at the agreed time by presenting an identity document. Please do not visit a testing site without a referral or an identity document. If possible, visit the testing site alone.
- Wait for the results.
Anyone who tests positive will receive a phone call within two working days. The test results are also registered in the digilugu.ee environment. In the case of a negative test result, the result is only registered in the individual’s file at digilugu.ee because there is not enough manpower available to be able to provide everyone who has taken a test with a personal call-back.
- If you have tested positive, please stay at home and follow the advice given by your family physician. If your health condition deteriorates, contact your family physician again or call an ambulance by dialling 112.
- Anyone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 must self-isolate based on a doctor’s decision.
In Estonia, the capacity for testing for COVID-19 is available through the laboratories of the Health Board, Tartu University Hospital, SYNLAB Estonia, the North Estonia Medical Centre Foundation, Ida-Viru Central Hospital, West Tallinn Central Hospital, East Tallinn Central Hospital, Pärnu Hospital, and Kuressaare Hospital.
For this purpose, a text message with a link to the e-reception system is sent to the mobile telephone number specified in the referral after that referral has been received. These text messages are sent to individuals who are at least eighteen years of age. The patient must verify their identity in the e-reception environment by using an ID card or Mobile ID (a Smart ID cannot be used). This will enable people to book their testing times quickly without having to wait for a call from the testing centre.
The service can be used on a voluntary basis and provides an alternative option. Those who do not wish to use the e-reception system or who fail to receive the text message due to technical issues will still receive a telephone call from the testing centre based on the order in which referrals are processed at the centre. Partial booking via the e-reception system will undoubtedly shorten the waiting time in terms of being contacted by the testing call centre. The test results will still be sent to tested individuals as previously.
If you have any questions, please contact the testing call centre by calling the number +372 646 4848 (Mon-Fri 9-17).
How can I get a certificate to confirm that I have recovered from the virus?
- Responses to referrals for coronavirus testing can be found via the ‘Patient Portal’ which can be printed out.
The following responses to referrals can be found in the Patient Portal:
- If your SARS‑CoV‑2 test was analysed at the SYNLAB Estonia laboratory, you can use the TESTI smartphone app to generate a free certificate. The app makes it possible to view coronavirus test results, share your result in ODF format, and generate a certificate which will contain your results. The TESTI smartphone app can be downloaded from the following address: https://api.testi.me/install.
Anyone who arrives in Estonia from a COVID-19 risk country as their country of origin or as a transit country may have themselves tested for coronavirus in order to be able to return to work and reduce the required duration of any restrictions on their freedom of movement.
The test can be taken as follows, depending on the method of arrival:
- By ship: visit the pedestrian area in terminals A or D of the Port of Tallinn
- By plane: visit the Medicum test site at Tallinn Airport
- At the border crossing points for Narva, Luhamaa, and Koidula
- For anyone who arrives in Estonia by road or via the Port of Paldiski, the free antigen tests can be taken at the public test sites in Tartu, Pärnu, and Tallinn, but time slots must be pre-booked by calling the public call centre (telephone 64 64 848, between Mon-Fri 08:00-18:00, or Sat and Sun 10:00-16:00). The list of public test sites is available HERE.
As of Monday 19 July, anyone crossing the Estonian border will be able to select from a range of coronavirus detection tests. In addition to the PCR test, a rapid antigen test will also become available, with a sample being collected by means of nasopharyngeal swabs and with the results being received within thirty minutes. The antigen tests, which will be carried out in local testing sites at border crossing points, will be available free of charge for residents of Estonia or at a cost of thirty euros for all other individuals. The free testing service is designed for anyone who arrives from what are known as ‘risk countries’. If an individual’s rapid antigen test result is positive, a further PCR test can be taken which may confirm or disprove the rapid test result. The PCR test can be taken immediately at the same border crossing point, or a different time slot may be booked at a suitable test site in Estonia. PCR tests which are taken to confirm the results of rapid tests are free for all, and the results will arrive within 48 hours.
If an individual who has travelled to Estonia would like to have a certificate issued to show the result of their antigen test, they must make clear this wish before taking the test and will be required to pay a fee of ten euros. A verified certificate will be sent to the email address of the individual who provided the sample. Rapid antigen test certificates cannot be generated via the testi.me application, but Estonian residents can still use the app to generate free PCR test certificates.
Testing is voluntary and free of charge for anyone who is able to present an Estonian passport, a grey Estonian alien’s passport, or an Estonian ID card. Non-Estonian citizens can pay by card to take the test on site (the test costs 53 euros, at the airport for the fee of 61 euros).
Anyone who is returning from an at-risk country by land can arrange a suitable time for initial testing by calling the public testing centre on the special telephone number: +372 678 0000 (Mon-Fri 9-17). Further information about testing is available at: www.koroonatestimine.ee/en/for-patients/testing-after-a-trip-abroad.
Tests can also be handled at public test sites all over Estonia: in Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Sillamäe, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Kohtla-Järve, Kuressaare, Võru, Haapsalu, Paide, Rapla, Hiiumaa, Valga, Põlva, Jõgeva, Kunda.
The second sample can only be given at a pre-booked time at the public testing sites.
Further information is available at: www.koroonatestimine.ee/en/testing-sites.
The testing service is being provided by a public testing organisation based on a contract with the Health Board. The tests are analysed at SYNLAB’s laboratory in Tallinn.
Individuals must observe restrictions on their freedom of movement until they have received their test results. Negative results are communicated by text message to individuals who have been tested. Phone calls are made to notify anyone of positive results. The results will also be made available through the digilugu.ee/en health information system, which can be accessed by means of an ID card, Mobile ID, or Smart ID.
If an individual has taken the first PCR coronavirus test upon entering the country or within 72 hours before entering the country, and the result of this test has been negative, they must still remain in limited self-isolation for the first six days of their stay in Estonia, which means that they may go to work in order to carry out essential duties which cannot be postponed once such a course of action has been agreed with their employer, and will also be able to go shopping for groceries near their home, but they must avoid any unnecessary contact with other people. They should also keep their distance from other individuals at work, and should wear a mask if necessary, along with maintaining any other safety requirements to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
At least six days after learning the result of the first test, a second PCR test may be taken. If the result of this test is also negative, the individual may resume their normal daily life. This means that, having tested negative twice, the individual will no longer be subjected to the ten-day restriction on their freedom of movement which is applied to anyone who has travelled from a risk country and has not taken two tests.
Please note that days following testing must be counted by assuming that the day upon which the test is taken is day zero. In other words, anyone who has been tested on Monday must wait at least until Sunday to take the second test, as Monday is day zero, Tuesday is day one, and Sunday is day six.
In the period between the two tests, the individual must observe the restrictions on their freedom of movement. Any result from a second test which has been taken less than six days after the first test will not reduce the duration of the isolation period.
Information on countries and restrictions on freedom of movement for passengers can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs »
The list of risk countries is updated every Friday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the new restrictions enter into force as of the Monday of the following week.
Where and how should one take the second test after arriving from abroad
(six days after receiving the results of the first test)?
- Repeat testing for Estonian citizens and individuals with an Estonian residence permit, including individuals with an Estonian identity document who have taken the first test in Estonia upon their arrival, will be arranged by the public testing call centre which will contact individuals to book a testing time. The second test is available free of charge if the individual’s country of origin or transit country before their arrival in Estonia was a risk country (or what is known as a ‘red’ country on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
- Repeat testing of those individuals who hold an Estonian identity document and who have taken the first test in a foreign country immediately before their arrival in Estonia is handled on the basis of individuals booking their own test times. Test times can be booked by calling the public testing centre on 678 0000 (Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00). It would be advisable to make the call a few days in advance, but the test may not be taken earlier than on the sixth day after receiving the results of the first test.
- Foreign nationals who have given their first test in a foreign country immediately prior to their arrival in Estonia or who have provided a test in exchange for a fee at the Estonian border must book their own testing time with a paid coronavirus testing service provider. The contact details for such service providers can be found HERE. It is advisable to make the call a few days in advance (as there may be a queue for testing), but the test may not be taken earlier than on the sixth day after receiving the results of the first test.
Is testing also available for citizens of other countries who travel to Estonia?
Visitors to Estonia can take the test at the airport for the fee of 61 euros. The test may also be taken elsewhere based on a price list that is issued by the respective service provider. The service is provided by the following service providers, among others:
Can children and elderly people also take the test upon arrival from abroad?
There are no age restrictions that are applicable to testing.
Foreigners and individuals who do not have health insurance
Foreigners and individuals who do not have health insurance must contact their nearest family health centre in the event of their developing symptoms. In the case of a suspected viral upper respiratory tract disease (such as a fever, dry cough, or breathing difficulties), patients will be seen irrespective of whether or not they are included in the list of patients for the family health centre. This is emergency care that must be provided by any family physician.
COVID-19 rapid tests and self-tests
How should I feel about a rapid antigen test?
Rapid antigen tests have already been marketed for a year. Their sensitivity and accuracy have reached a very good level, although they are not comparable to the gold standard of testing, the PCR test. It is important to know that a rapid antigen test only detects the virus if the amount of the virus in your body is very high, and usually between 4-5 days after you have developed any symptoms. Individuals may, however, be infectious before developing any symptoms, as well as several weeks after developing symptoms, and the antigen test is not capable of detecting this.
Can I use the rapid antigen test for testing myself at home?
Right now the European market contains only rapid antigen tests which have been designed for professional use. This means that such tests are designed to be used by healthcare professionals or under a healthcare professional’s supervision. Non-professional users are not actually prohibited from their use in order to self-test. Such users must, however, be aware that the potential mistakes which may be made in the course of conducting or interpreting the test will certainly reduce the reliability of the test, and an untrained user is more likely to obtain a false positive or a false negative result.
What should I do if I decide to use a rapid antigen test?
Before taking the test, carefully read the packaging leaflet. Firstly ensure that you have collected the sample properly, exactly as described in the user instructions. The process of collecting a nonlaryngeal sample is an uncomfortable one which very often causes tear flow. It is more comfortable to collect the sample from the nasal sidewalls, but contact with the mucosa on the sidewalls is very important in this case. If you fail to collect the sample properly, you will not get a reliable test result.
Collect the sample in a room which is not used for eating meals, one which is properly ventilated, and one in which the surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected. Make sure that there are no individuals present in the room who are not involved in the process of collecting the sample, as that process is itself a potentially infectious one. Before using the test, clean your hands and any surfaces which you are going to use. Make sure that you also clean those surfaces, as well as your hands, after completing the test.
What if I test positive?
A positive test result means it is very likely that you are infectious, and you should immediately stay at home and contact your family physician or the family physician advisory line (1220). Unless decided otherwise by the physician, the rapid antigen test result should be confirmed by a PCR test so that your positive test result can be registered in the Health Information System. In this case, you will be officially entitled to a certificate for sick leave, and you will also be exempted from the obligation to self-isolate in the future, as you will already have had the disease. You must also let your close contacts know that they are required to self-isolate at home.
What if I test negative?
If you are sure that the sample was collected properly, you have no symptoms which are characteristic of COVID-19, and you are not aware of any contact with individuals who have been infected with COVID-19, you may carry on with your everyday routine. You should still take all precautions to prevent becoming infected, including wearing a mask, proper hand hygiene, and keeping a safe distance away from others. Avoiding private parties, various gatherings, and crowded places is also important.
If you have been in contact with an individual who has been infected with COVID-19 or in the event of you yourself developing any symptoms of COVID-19 (such as a headache, tiredness, a fever, or a cough), your test result may be a false negative, and you are strongly urged to contact your family physician or the family physician advisory line (1220) to book a PCR test.
If you suspect that you may be infected, it could be the case that the amount of the virus in your bloodstream is not yet sufficient for the antigen test to detect it. You should monitor your health condition and repeat the test in a few days time, if necessary.
When is it reasonable to use a rapid antigen test?
Before visiting at-risk individuals (such as before a doctor’s appointment, or before visiting a care home). You should still observe all social distancing rules and use personal protective equipment even if you have tested negative. In some cases, it is reasonable to take the test before going to work or to use the test for the early detection of the infection in a work collective. Close contacts should also take the test to see whether they have been infected (before going to a grocery shop or a pharmacy). If you have been infected or are a close contact, a negative rapid antigen test result may never be used to decide whether you can end your isolation period prematurely. Individuals remain infectious even after the rapid antigen test can no longer detect the infection. The rapid antigen test provides the best result if you repeat the test regularly with an interval of a few days and under the same conditions. Repeated negative results from rapid tests which have been taken under identical conditions, plus a lack of symptoms and close contact cases, and responsible social distancing along with the use of personal protective equipment all make it possible to reduce the risk of infection, as well as the risk of infecting others.