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Testing for the virus

Coronavirus testing can determine whether a person is carrying the virus or not, but does not serve any healing characteristics.  It is important to be aware that the tests can give a false-negative result when administered. Meaning, the person being tested is actually positive. Majority of the cases have mild symptoms that can be treated as other viral diseases.

People with the symptoms of the disease are tested, with the emphasis to the ones belonging to a risk group, patients who have received a medical indication and those who are hospitalized with the signs of viral disease. The necessity for the test is determined by a general practitioner or a medical specialist. Random sampling will be applied to people who are in contact with a lot of people at work and can potentially infect others.


Population-based survey


Before you call your family doctor, test how probable it is that your health problem is the coronavirus. For that, a digital test has been created on the web page

If you become sick, call your family doctor!


The family doctor will assess the need for testing and give health advice. If the family doctor considers it necessary to administer the test, she will give a digital referral. The designated testing centre will then call the patient and fix the exact time and location for testing.

See the results of your test in the patient portal, digilugu


A person who has given a positive sample will definitely get a phone call. If the sample was negative, the person will find the results of the analysis in the patient portal because there is not enough capacity to call everybody. Because of the heavy load, it might take time to carry out the test and notify of the results.


Getting tested?

Who is being tested for coronavirus, how, and why?

Coronavirus test will be done for:

  • people at any age with symptoms
  • people at any age with any medical indication
  • people receiving hospital in-patient care with virus symptoms

The need for testing is determined by the family doctor who has been provided with specific guidelines which have been agreed jointly by family doctors and the Health Board. The guidelines will help the doctor to make decisions regarding the coronavirus. The family doctor takes into account all the recommendations in the guidelines and evaluates each patient case separately. When deciding, the doctor will take into account the patient’s symptoms, general health and all related diseases. If necessary, the family doctor will direct the patient for testing.

If a person falls ill or has any other health concerns, they should first contact their family doctor or the family doctor help line 1220.

What should I do if I am sick?

  • If you have fallen ill, call your family doctor. The family doctor will evaluate the need for testing and give medical advice. If testing is necessary, the family doctor will send the order to the laboratory and they will call you to book a time and place of testing. Wait for the call!

  • Make sure that your family doctor has your phone number, otherwise the call centre cannot contact you.

  • If you have received the referral note from the family doctor, you can make your own appointment for coronavirus testing. A short message will be sent to the registered telephone number by the public testing system after receipt of the letter of referral, which includes the e-registration link. The message is received by people aged 18 and more. The patient needs to identify themself by using their ID card or a mobile ID in the e-registration environment. This allows for fast booking time, and there will be no need to wait for the call from the testing centre. This service is an additional option. People not willing to use the e-registration or who cannot receive the text message due to technical problems, will receive a phone call from the testing centre in the order of referral letters received.

  • Bring a personal identification document and arrive in time. Nasal swab will be taken upon presenting your identification. Tests will be carried out only for persons with a digital referral from a family doctor and who have registered to get tested. Do not bring along family members when you come for a test.

  • If you cannot go to the testing location by car, an appointment will be made over the phone for a tester to come to your home.

  • After you have been tested, stay at home and wait for the results. You will receive the results within two working days. If the result was positive, you will get a phone call. The results will also be entered into the patient portal

  • If your test result was positive, remain at home and follow the recommendations of your family doctor!

  • If your condition deteriorates, contact your family doctor or call an ambulance by dialling 112.

Additional information:

Where can I get tested when returning from a high-risk country, and what is the cost?

People arriving on foot at the Port of Tallinn, terminals A and D, can take their test with a clinician from Confido, and people arriving at the Tallinn airport can approach the Qvalitas testing point with their letter of referral. The letter of referral will be provided at the airport. Issuing the letter of referral and taking the test will take about five minutes. Testing will take place on a first-come-first-serve basis at the port and airport. The testing sites are open until the last passenger by boat or plane has arrived.

Passengers arriving from a high-risk country at any other sea port or airport or by train or road transport , can get tested by booking a time with the SYNLAB and Medicum testing centres by calling tel 678 0000 (Monday-to-Friday 9 am to 5 pm). Priority in testing will be given to those with symptoms of the disease, therefore the waiting time will be one to two days. If you already know your time of arrival, it is recommended to book the test in advance.

Tests can be carried out in public testing points in Estonia in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Kuressaare, Võru, Kärdla, Sillamäe, Haapsalu, Rapla, Valga ja Põlva. Additional information on testing can be found

People who have the Estonian ID-code can test free-of-charge; foreign nationals can use card-payment to pay for the test.

In order to reduce the 10-day self-isolation period, the second test must be performed no earlier than on the seventh day following the results of the previous test result. The second test result must be negative to end the self-isolation period. In order to take the test free-of-charge (with the Estonian ID-code), a time must be booked by calling tel 678 0000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm). Testing for a fee is available with all the service providers.

Under what conditions may an employer require their employees to use personal protective equipment?

The decision to use personal protective equipment must be based on risk analysis. This means that the employer carries out a risk analysis which will show what dangers there are in the work environment. This includes biological dangers, and among them is the possibility of infection with the coronavirus. After that, they can decide what measures should be taken to avoid or reduce related risks. Under § 13 (2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer has the right to apply stricter health and safety requirements than those required by law.

Personal protective equipment must be used if the risk analysis shows that the danger of infection cannot be avoided or reduced only by shared means of protection such as protective glass to stop the spread of the virus, or through organisational measures such as maintaining distance and making disinfectant available.

The employer must inform their employees of the results of the risk analysis in the working environment, which includes health risks and the measures taken to avoid harm to health. The employer informs their employees of any possible points of danger identified during the risk analysis such as the risk of infection in particular companies or during particular work tasks, and what measures are being taken. As shared protective measures or organisational measures are to be preferred to personal protective equipment, the employer must explain to their employees why it was decided to use personal protective equipment.

The employer must explain why it is necessary to use personal protective equipment and to require its use. When this is explained to the employees it is important that they understand why this requirement has been introduced. If the reasons for the requirement are not explained to the employees, there may be more opposition to complying with it.

If the employee does not comply with the construction, the employer may issue a warning that they may be dismissed if they do not follow the rules. If the employee does not abide by the rules even after the warning, the employer has the right to terminate their employment.

I have a referral to COVID-19 testing. Why has the testing centre not called me yet?

Due to the increase in testing volumes, the waiting time is now a bit longer. If you provided your phone number when the referral was issued, you will be contacted.

When the letter of referral from the family doctor arrives, you can also register yourself to be tested for coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A short message will be sent to the telephone number provided to the public testing system after receipt of the letter of referral which will allow you to use the e-registration via the enclosed link.

Can the self-isolation time of a close contact be reduced when the person gets tested?

Person who has been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed infection of COVID-19 needs to remain in self-isolation for 14 days.

The self-isolation period of 14 calendar days for a person who has been in close contact with an infected person can be shortened by testing. To do this, the SARS-CoV-2 test of coronavirus causing COVID-19 must be taken not earlier than on the tenth calendar day since the previous immediate contact with the person infected with coronavirus.

Until the result of the test are returned the person must remain in self-isolation. If the test result is negative, the self-isolation is no longer necessary.

How much does it cost for a foreign national to take a coronavirus test at the border?

Foreign nationals will have to pay a fee to take the test, the coronavirus test at the port and the airport will cost EUR 67, in other places the prices will be indicated by the service provider.

Testing can be carried out by the following service providers:

Почему в Эстонии пробы на коронавирус берут из носоглотки, а в некоторых других странах – из горла?

Самое важное при заборе пробы – чтобы получаемый материал содержал достаточно частиц вируса. Сейчас аргументом в пользу метода, применяемого в Эстонии, Европе и большинстве других стран мира, служит возможность выявлять вирус еще на ранней стадии. Это позволяет при необходимости быстро применять карантинные меры.

Второй довод – достоверный результат.

По сравнению с пробой из носоглотки, забор слюны действительно проще, но в таком случае следует стандартизировать объем проб (сколько слюны пациента будет достаточно для одной баночки). Следует учитывать и время, затрачиваемое на сбор проб слюны в условиях массового тестирования. При заборе слюны в баночку существует риск запачкать ее снаружи инфекционно опасным материалом – это повышает риск распространения вируса. Что касается чувствительности пробы слюны, пока существуют лишь единичные исследования, а международные организации единогласно не рекомендуют применять этот метод.

What should I do to get tested for the coronavirus?

  • One precondition to getting tested is being symptomatic. as a rule. the symptoms appear 5-6 days after infection. In some cases, the person infected is contagious a day or two before the symptoms appear.

  • If symptoms appear, stay at home, and call your family doctor. The family doctor will decide whether a test is needed and will give health advice.

  • If the family doctor decides that you need a test, they will send an electronic request to the laboratory and they will call you to agree on the place and time for the test. Wait for the call. Tests can also be done at weekends and on national holidays.

  • All people who receive a letter of referral from their family doctor can book their time for testing for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. After the letter of referral arrives, the public testing system will send a text message to the phone number provided in the letter of referral with a link for e-registration option. This message will be sent to people aged 18 and over. The patient needs to identify themselves with their ID-card or Mobile-ID in the e-registration environment. This helps people to book their testing time, and they do not have to wait for the testing centre to call them.

  • The service is not compulsory, it is an additional option. If you do not wish to use e-registration or you do not receive the text message for technical reasons, then the testing centre will call you for registration in the order of the letters of referral received.

  • Take an ID document with you to the test and be on time.

  • Only a person with an electronic referral can give the nasopharyngeal sample at the agreed time with an ID document. There is no point in coming just in case, only people with a prior registration are tested. You should come alone for the test.

  • Wait for the result. A person who has given a positive sample will be called within two working days, the results will also be inserted to the portal. If the test was negative, the results will be inserted to the person's page, as there is not enough capacity to call everybody.

  • If your test is positive, stay at home and follow the advice of your family doctor. If your health deteriorates, contact your family doctor again or call an ambulance on 112. 

  • If Covid-19 infection is confirmed you must remain in self-isolation as ordered by your doctor, following the same rules as provided in the Order of the Government of the Republic no 336 from September 29, 2020. A person can leave self-isolation only in exceptional circumstances (if the person has received an order to leave their place of residence or permanent stay from a health care worker or a police official, if a health care worker has referred the person to health care services, or in case of an emergency that endangers the person's health or life).

Where should a foreigner who does not have a family doctor in Estonia turn to for a corona test?

A foreigner staying in Estonia, as well as everyone else who does not have a family doctor needs to turn to the closest family medicine centre. The family doctor there will then decide whether a corona test is necessary or not.

Turning to a doctor with acute symptoms of any respiratory disease has been equated with emergency care and this is paid for by the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.

Can I pay to have a coronavirus test?

You can pay to get a coronavirus test from providers including Confido , Medicum , SYNLAB , Qvalitas Arstikeskus and others.

It is reasonable for people showing signs of illness to take a test or if there is a medical reason for it. People showing no signs of infection do not need to take a test as the test result reflects only the moment of testing and a negative result can create a false sense of security and does not mean there will be no infection in the near future.

I am coming from Russia in a car, where can I get the corona test?

Currently there are 15 public coronavirus testing sites where you can go with a personal identification document at a pre-booked time to give a nasopharyngeal sample for the coronavirus test.

In order to book a time you must call the booking line of the testing centre 678 0000. Calls are taken from Monday to Friday 9.00-17.00.

The testing sites are located at:

  • Tallinn, Haabersti -- Paldiski mnt 104b, next to Saku Concert Hall (SYNLAB tent)
  • Tallinn, Mustamägi -- Ehitajate tee 27, the parking lot of the Mustamäe Health Center (Medicum tent)
  • Tallinn, Lasnamägi -- Narva mnt 95, the Mäe gate of the Tallinn Song Festival Ground (Medicum tent)
  • Tartu -- Laulupeo puiestee 25, near the song festival ground (Qvalitas tent)
  • Viljandi -- the Viljandi market square (SYNLAB bus)
  • Pärnu -- Rannapark P1 the parking lot of Naisterand (Qvalitas tent)
  • Rakvere -- Tuleviku 1, the Rakvere polyclinic (SYNLAB office)
  • Paide -- Tallinna mnt 47, parking lot (SYNLAB bus)
  • Kuressaare -- Aia 25, in front of the main entrance of the Kuressaare hospital
  • Narva -- Joala 20, Narva Gate (Corrigo office)
  • Kohtla-Järve -- Ilmajaama 14, in the parking lot of the G-block (Ida-Viru Central Hospital tent)
  • Hiiumaa -- the location of giving the sample is agreed upon with Hiiumaa Hospital
  • Võru -- Kooli 4, in the parking lot of Kagukeskus, near the car wash (Qvalitas tent)
  • Sillamäe -- Kesk 28, near the swimming pool (Ida-Viru Central Hospital tent)
  • Haapsalu -- Posti 3, next to the Culture Centre, on the corner of Rahu and Vaba (SYNLAB tent)

The newest info on testing sites can be found here.

Why is the coronavirus testing done in Estonia as a nasal swab, when in some other countries a throat swab is taken?

For taking a sample, the most important thing is that the sample should contain a sufficient amount of virus material. Regarding the method used currently in Estonia, in Europe, and most of the world, it enables to detect the virus in its´ early stages which allows to quarantine the patient immediately.

The second advantage is related to the reliability of the test.

Using a spit test as an alternative to nasal swab would be easier but the sample quantity would need to be standardised (the sufficient quantity of spit provided as a sample). If mass testing is necessary, then the time factor is important, considering how long it would take to spit versus how long it will take to get a nasal swab. With a spit test there is an additional hazard of cross-contamination of the container, and a risk to further the spread of the virus. There have been only a few studies carried out for spit testing, and there are no clear recommendations regarding spit tests from international organisations.


Coronavirus tests


How quickly can I have the results of the virus test?

How long does it take for the Health Board to receive the results of a coronavirus test after testing? Will the person tested get the information over the telephone only if the test came back positive or regardless of the result?

Persons who have tested positive will definitely receive a phone call. Testing and providing information on test results takes time due to excessive workload, but usually the results come in within 2 days.

When the person tests negative, the test results will be entered to the digital Patient Portal, and not everybody will receive a phone call. You can access website using your ID-card or Mobile-ID.

Meaning of the results of the virus test


Last updated: 16 October 2020