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Who and why are being tested for COVID-19 and how?

  • People are tested when they are symptomatic and it is medically indicated.
  • The necessity of testing is decided by the family doctor who sends the patient to be tested.
  • The family doctor has been issued with guidelines but the final decision is always the family doctor’s medical decision that she takes, knowing the patients in her list, taking into consideration the patient’s symptoms, general health condition and all additional diseases.
  • The doctor will evaluate all cases individually.
  • Testing priority is given to older people and the chronically ill, regardless of their age, which means that in justified cases people of all ages are tested if there is a medical indication.
  • The guidelines that were agreed upon between the family doctors and the Estonian Health Board are there to aid the doctor, and all recommendations in the guidelines should be viewed in combination. Determining that a person belongs to a risk group and making the decision are a doctor’s responsibility, a person himself cannot and should not do this.
  • Testing does not change the treatment, a doctor is guided by a person’s symptoms and general condition, also taking account additional chronic diseases.
  • All hospitalised patients who have corona virus symptoms are also tested.
  • Random sampling will also be used to test medical workers without symptoms of illness, care home workers, social workers, police and border guard officers, rescue service workers and other front line persons, who due to their work may pose a danger to the risk groups.

Following the principles of testing is necessary in the current crises in order to rationally use personal protective equipment, laboratory equipment and medical workers in a situation where serious delivery issues are a reality. We have to guarantee that the health care system is operational in longer term as well and cannot create a situation where all masks and protective clothing has been used up for testing and there is not enough of it for doctors and nurses working on the front lines or during operations.

The organisation of testing is in the process of changing, we are giving information on this step-by-step. If the situation changes, the guidelines to the doctors will be reviewed as well.

If a person gets sick or has any other health concerns, his first contact is his family doctor or the family doctor help line 1220.


Getting tested?

  1. If you get sick, call your family doctor! The family doctor will evaluate whether testing is necessary and will give health advice.
  2. If the family doctor decides that testing is necessary, she will forward an electronic order to the laboratory and they will call you to agree upon the place and time of testing. Wait for the call!
  3. Drive to the agreed upon place with a car at the right time and have an ID document with you! Only a person with an electronic referral can give the nasopharyngeal sample at an agreed upon time on the basis of an ID document. Only a person with a family doctor's referral that has been sent to the laboratory is tested. There is no point in coming just in case, only people with a prior registration are tested. It is not sensible to take family members along in the same car when you come to get tested.
  4. Wait for the result, you will be called! The results will come within two working days, the person will be called. The results will also move to the portal.
  5. If your test result is positive, stay at home, follow the family doctor's prior recommendations. If your health worsens, contact your family doctor or call an ambulance from the number 112

In Estonia, the laboratories of the Health Board, Tartu University Clinic, SYNLAB, Norther Estonian Regional Hospital, Ida-Viru County Central Hospital, Pärnu Hospital, Kuressaare Hospital, West-Tallinn Central Hospital, and East-Tallinn Central Hospital have the testing capabilities of COVID-19.


Why can´t everybody be checked for coronavirus?

Testing of any person suspected of coronavirus was appropriate when we tried to prevent the virus from entering Estonia, the aim was to detect possible cases as soon as possible, isolate the infected persons and prevent further spread of the virus.

The result of the test will not provide the necessary information for people to look after themselves, as there is no specific treatment, and it is only possible to alleviate the symptoms. The need for testing will be decided by the doctor. Doctors have been given instructions indicating the risk groups for which testing is recommended in the event of illness. It is left to the discretion of the family physician to decide who will be referred for a test.

The tests are carried out primarily on people who are hospitalised due to coronavirus, people at risk (aged, chronic patients, people with compromised immune systems, health care professionals and staff of social welfare institutions), and on the basis of a random selection of health care professionals without symptoms, staff of social welfare institutions, police, rescue staff and other people on the front line, who due to their tasks can pose a threat to risk groups.

Healthcare resources are limited. The test kits and personal protective equipment needed for testing are running out everywhere in the world. Therefore, we need to use the available resources in a sustainable manner in order to be able to continue the work long term.

Testing people without disease symptoms just as an assurance is not appropriate, the test result may be a false negative, the result refers only to the condition at that spedific time, and does not exclude future infection.

To slow the spread of the disease, it is most important for everyone to avoid contact with infected persons, avoid contacts with other people, follow regular hygiene rules, and anyone who becomes ill must stay at home until they are well. In case of illness, you must contact your family physician or clinic, if your condition deteriorates – if you experience shortages of breath or breathing difficulties, call the emergency line 112.