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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.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.

What should I do to get tested for the coronavirus?

If you have any symptoms, stay at home, and call your family doctor or the family doctors' helpline at +372 6346 630 or 1220 (24/7).

When the family doctor has sent the referral to the testing system, a text message will be sent to the adult getting tested (aged 18 or above) on the number provided on the referral. This will allow for booking the time for testing via the online booking system. After the referral has arrived to the laboratory information system, the website gives you access to the website https://www.veebiregistratuur.ee, and you can book your time for testing. It is necessary to identify oneself with an ID card, Mobile ID or Smart ID upon making the booking.

All those who are using the online booking system or won't receive the text message for technical reasons will be called by the testing call centre in the order of the referrals received, within one day (calls will be made from Monday to Saturday). If the call centre has not contacted you within 48 hours, we recommend contacting the family doctor to check if the phone number included on the referral is correct, and if the referral has been forwarded. If the phone number on the referral is correct, please contact the testing call centre, their opening times are available on the website https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/customer-support/.

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

The locations of testing points can be found on https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/testing-sites/ , information about paid testing can be found on https://koroonatestimine.ee/en/for-patients/paid-testing/, more information about the test can also be found on the Health Board website https://www.terviseamet.ee/en/testing-virus, and by phone 1247.

Where can I do a paid coronavirus test?

There are several service providers who offer paid testing (the list in not exhaustive):

Testing is substantiated for people who are symptomatic or for whom it is medicaööy indicated. Testing asymptomatic people is not considered feasible, as the test results only reflects the situation at the moment of testing and a negative result may cause a false sense of security and does not rule out getting infected in the near future.

How long does it take for the Health Board to receive the results of a coronavirus test after testing? Will the person tested get a phone call 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 the test results takes time due to excessive workload, but usually the results come in within two days.

When the person tests negative, the test results will be entered to the digital Patient Portal digilugu.ee, because it is not possible to call every person who has been tested. You can access digilugu.ee website using your ID-card or Mobile-ID.

What should I do if I get sick?

  • If you are sick, 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 referral 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.

  • All persons who have received the referral from their family doctor can make their own appointments for coronavirus testing. A short message that includes the e-registration link will be sent to the registered telephone number by the public testing system after receipt of the referral. The message is received by people aged 18 and over. The patient needs to identify himself in the e-registration environment by using his ID card or a Mobile-ID. This allows for fast booking time, and there will be no need to wait for the call from the testing centre. This service is a voluntary and additional option. People who are 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 referrals received.

  • Bring an identification document and drive to the agreed upon location in time. You can give a nasopharyngeal sample based on your identification document. Tests will be carried out only for persons who have 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. More information: https://synlab.ee/algab-perearsti-saatekirjaga-koroonaviiruse-laiendatud-testimine/ (in Estonian).

  • 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 giving the sample, 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 digilugu.ee.

  • 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.

If no symptoms have occurred, the isolation is ended 10 days after a positive test. The day of taking the test is considered Day 0. Isolation can be ended only if there have been no symptoms. Isolation is ended by a doctor. If symptoms occur during isolation, the isolation starts again from the occurrence of the symptoms and the patient is considered a symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive.

Is there information on the longevity of the immunity achieved after suffering through the coronavirus? How long might it last?

The virus is new, only having emerged at the end of December 2019. It is yet too early to say whether suffering though the disease will create immunity or not.

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.

How can a person get tested if they have been in close contact with an infected person?

A person who has been in close contact with a person with a confirmed infection of COVID-19 must remain in isolation for 10 days from the most recent contact with the infected person.

If any symptoms of illness occur during self-isolation, you must contact your family doctor. In this case, the family doctor will provide you with the letter of referral for testing.

The Health Board recommends that a close contact do a test after the end of the 10 calendar day quarantine period, in order to discover a possible case of asymptomatic coronavirus. Instructions for booking a testing time are given by the Health Board or from the state information phone line 1247.

A close contact of an infected person who has learned about their contact via a notification from the HOIA mobile app, should contact the Health Board.

The test is free for persons who have been in close contact with an infected person.

Can the self-isolation time of a close contact be reduced by testing?

A close contact of a person who has a confirmed infection of COVID-19 needs to remain in self-isolation for 10 days.

It is not possible to reduce the 10 calendar day self-isolation period with a test. However, the Health Board does recommend that a close contact do a test after the end of the 10 calendar day self-isolation period, in order to discover a possible case of asymptomatic coronavirus. The test is free for both Estonian citizens and non-citizens.

To register for a 10th day test of a close contact, call SYNLAB at +372 6464848. The tests are done from Monday to Friday 8.00-18.00; Saturday and Sunday 10.00-16.00.

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 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. Testing is free for persons who have an Estonian personal identification code; foreigners can pay by card on the spot.

Additional information on testing can be found https://koroonatestimine.ee/.

People arriving to Estonia from at-risk countries who wish to end isolation earlier than the tenth day must be tested not earlier than 72 hours before they arrive in Estonia. The second test can then be done in Estonia not earlier than on the sixth day after the first test. The period of six days will be calculated from the day following the first test. Self-isolation can be terminated early if the results of both tests are negative.

Appointment for a free test (with an Estonian ID code) can be booked by calling 678 0000 (Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm). A test for a fee can be done with all service providers who offer this service.

How can I get re-tested?

Re-testing is available to passengers who have come to Estonia from countries at-risk from COVID-19 or have travelled through an at-risk country. Information about the at-risk countries can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs home page.

If you the Estonian ID-card and the national identification number:

  • re-testing is optional, taking the second tests helps to reduce the 10-day restriction on freedom of movement period, provided the results of both tests are negative.

  • re-testing can be done on the sixth day after the results of the first test after arrival in Estonia.

  • re-testing is free of charge for passengers who have arrived in Estonia from an at-risk country or travelled through an at-risk country.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare, Kärdla, Haapsalu, Rapla, Sillamäe, Valga and Põlva.

  • the call centre will make an appointment for the second test.

People who have done their first test in another country (i.e. not at the border) must call to the call centre for people crossing the border 678 0000 (Monday to Friday 9pm to 5pm).

Foreign nationals who do not have an Estonian ID-card or the national identification number but who are nationals of countries belonging to the European Union common list:

  • re-testing is optional, taking the second tests helps to reduce the 10-day restriction on freedom of movement period, provided the results of both tests are negative.

  • re-testing can be done on the sixth day after the results of the first test after arrival in Estonia.

  • re-testing can be done for a fee.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare and Kärdla.

  • you need to make your own appointment for re-testing with the service provider and pay a fee for the test.

Foreign nationals who do not have an Estonian ID-card or the national identification number, and who are nationals of third countries outside the European Union (including, for example, the Russian Federation and Ukraine) and who arrive in Estonia to work or study:

  • re-testing is compulsory. There is no possibility to shorten the period of self-isolation.

  • re-testing can be done from the tenth day after arrival to Estonia.

  • re-testing can be done for a fee.

  • the second test has to be booked in advance and can be taken only at public testing points in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Võru, Kuressaare and Kärdla.

  • you need to make your own appointment for re-testing with the service provider and pay a fee for the test.

Foreign nationals can take a test for a fee at all the service providers who offer this option, such as: Confido, Medicum, SYNLAB, Qvalitas Arstikeskus

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 52, in other places the prices will be indicated by the service provider. Testing can be carried out by the following service providers:

If the test has to be done up to 72 hours before arrival, will the person travelling need to pay for the test themselves? Will this amount be refunded later?

If testing in a foreign country is for a fee, then this fee will not be refunded when the person arrives in Estonia. No changes have been made in Estonia regarding the payment for testing. You can get tested at the port and the airport immediately upon arrival, and the test will be free with the Estonian ID-code.

How should a child prepare for giving a throat rinse sample to test for COVID-19?

Throat rinse samples can be given by children under the age of 18 at public testing sites and at the SYNLAB site for paid testing. Upon coming to take a test, the child gets to choose whether he wants to do the regular nasopharyngeal test or a throat rinse test. The throat rinse test cannot be done at the border crossing points as the procedure takes longer and this would lengthen the waiting times of everybody who is doing the test.

It is recommended that in order to prepare the children, they should try out gargling with tap water at home with their parents before coming for testing. This way the children know what will be waiting for them in advance.

In order for the throat rinse sample to be gathered correctly, it can be given only at a testing location, instructed by a medical professional. To give a sample, the patient receives 10 millilitres of saline solution (sodium chloride) that he needs to gargle in his throat (it is important to distinguish this from a regular mouth wash). The medical professional pulls some of the throat rinse liquid from the cup into a special test-tube, marks it with the patient's information and sends it to a laboratory to be analysed with the same, PCR method. The results of the analysis come to the digilugu.ee portal within 24 to 48 hours, just like with the nasopharyngeal test. It is possible to issue the certificate necessary for travelling based on the throat rinse test as well.

An appointment is done in the same way, whether it is for a nasopharyngeal or a throat rinse test. In order to get a referral, you must turn to your family doctor or call the family doctor advice line 1220. To do a paid test, you need to book an appointment by calling the paid testing site of SYNLAB at 17123 or by writing to klienditugi[at]synlab[dot]ee.

When should I do a corona test if I have been a close contact and am not symptomatic?

There is no point for a close contact to rush to take a test, as a corona test done too early does not give an accurate overview of a possible infection.

A close contact must spend 10 days in quarantine and a test should be done only if symptoms occur. It takes at least 7 to 10 days for a PCR sample to indicate a virus. As long as a close contact has no symptoms, there are no restrictions on his family members either.

However, if symptoms do occur, the best course of action is to isolate yourself from your family members in a separate room, if possible, and wear a mask even indoors. From that moment, the family members are also considered to be close contacts and they have to stay at home.

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.

How accurate are the rapid antigen tests?

This definitely depends on the test, but they have considerably improved within a year. The rapid antigen tests usually indicate their sensitivity and specificity. The sensitivity shows how many people with antigens the test identifies on average. If the test has 97% sensitivity, it finds 32 of 33 sick persons but also identifies one sick person as a false healthy. Specificity shows how many people without antigens it can identify on average. If the specificity is 99%, the test finds one false infected among 100 persons without antigens.

Still, these indicators only apply if the level of virus in the organism is high. If there are few antigens (before symptoms occur or immediately after the disease), the tests might show the correct results.

 

Last updated: 3 May 2021