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THL: Variations in access to Covid-19 testing in Finland

Public health officials said that allergies and colds may be driving a marked rise in testing seen during the summer.

Koronavirusnäytteitä
Coronavirus samples collected for testing. Image: Pasi Takkunen / Yle

Finland has seen a strong increase in testing for novel coronavirus this summer, but there are variations in access to getting tested in different parts of the country, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

According to THL data, access to a coronavirus test is not consistent across the country, THL director Mika Salminen told Yle’s morning radio programme Ykkösaamu. He added that everyone should be able to get tested at their nearest health centre.

"It is not good enough for health care [officials] to say that people cannot get the test. There’s no point in setting up special screening for a test," he added.

Finland is said to be currently considering new testing approaches. For example officials have looked to countries like Denmark, where people can get tested if they want based on even the mildest symptoms.

Salminen told Yle that nevertheless, it is good that people who can get tested are taking advantage of the opportunity to do so. He speculated that one reason for the enthusiasm for the coronavirus test has been that colds and nasal inflammation have become more common recently.

Currently national guidelines are for people to get tested as soon as they suspect they have symptoms of Covid-19. Salminen said that there is one symptom in particular that warrants immediate testing.

"If you lose your sense of smell, you should get tested right away," he advised.

The THL official pointed out that the rollback of border restrictions and the current state of the global pandemic mean that there is a risk of the resurgence of the disease in Finland.

He said that public health authorities are preparing for that possibility by introducing a contact tracing app, among other things.

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