Long queues for Covid tests inconvenience employers

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Laboratory testing capacity is not enough to meet the demand, causing trouble for employers and employees, Latvian Radio reported February 1.

Currently, the rules stipulate that in the event of an infection with Covid-19 the State pays for the sick leave if the person has a Covid certificate. If the Covid-19 test is negative, the employer should pay for the sick leave. The confirmation of the illness should come within three days. However, with the huge demand for tests, it cannot be immediately determined whether the person has Covid-19. 

“There is a lack of clarity at the moment,” said Līga Meņģelsone, executive director of the Latvian Employers' Confederation.

"The National Health Service (NVD) explains that the average test waiting time is well over three days. The average waiting time in the country is 4.8 days. In Riga – an average of 6 days, outside Rīga – an average of 4.1 days," said Meņģelsone.

The fact that the queues are long and still growing is confirmed by laboratories. Stella Lapiņa, chair of the board of the Central Laboratory, said in a conversation with Latvian Radio on Monday that a spot in Rīga is available only on Friday.

“The situation has improved a little, but it is extremely unstable because our staff is starting to get sick, too. Virtually every day, 2-3 employees declare they have contracted Covid-19. There is a good situation in Latgale, in both Rēzekne and Daugavpils you can get the test the next day,” said Lapiņa.

She stressed that every day workers rearrange their testing schedule and find places for a large proportion of people who have to find out whether the disease is Covid-19 within three days.

"Particularly those categories of employees for whom the sick leave. Who can't go online – teachers, doctors. They say they need it, and then we find a place for that person on the next day [..]," said Lapiņa.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said that family doctors have the possibility to make adjustments to the sick leaves if necessary if there are objective reasons for this. If the results take more than three days, the family doctor will be able to address the situation.

This means that neither the ill person nor the employer has to make any changes, but Gulbe called on citizens, employers and family doctors to communicate with each other and to inform each other about the news, so that the changes can be made as quickly as possible, without risking a mistake.

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