Health Ministry mulls change in COVID-19 testing order in Latvia

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The Ministry of Health intends to change the COVID-19 testing procedures, said Antra Valdmane, director of the Health Ministry's Healthcare Department, on Latvian Television October 21.

It is intended to offer state-paid testing only to individuals who have a doctor's referral indicating the need for a test. However, if this change affected the numbers of tests significantly and there was a sharp decline, the system could be changed again rapidly, said Valdmane. 

Currently, an average of 4,000 tests per day are performed. Valdmane said that only 200 of those are with a GP's referral, others are voluntary. 

The arrangements are intended to be changed in order to reduce queues: at the moment, six days is the standard waiting time. This should not be the case if the patient needs an urgent test, for example, in order to receive treatment at a medical facility. The Ministry of Health plans that with the changes, the maximum waiting time would be two days.

After the changes, the Ministry will see how the situation develops, and either return to the existing arrangements or change something else in the system.

The VM spokeswoman explained that this does not require amendments to regulations or laws, the changes adopted by the Ministry would come into force immediately and these rules are “quick to maneuver”.

At the moment, the Ministry is convinced that e-health system can cope with the referrals to the COVID-19 tests. Concerns about the planned arrangements have been raised by GPs, with whom the ministry intends to discuss the matter on Wednesday, Valdmane said.

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