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Top doc: Holidaymakers should pay for their own Covid tests

People jetting off on holiday should pay for their own Covid tests, say medics.

Hoitajat työskentelivät Messukeskuksen drive-in-koronatestauspisteellä 2. heinäkuuta.
A Covid testing station in Helsinki on 2 July. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Covid tests from public providers should not be used to prove Covid status to border authorities and airlines, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

"Tests needed for holidays should be paid for by people themselves, and those needed for work trips should in principle be paid for by employers," said Kirsi Varhila of the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health.

The goal is to ensure public health authorities can offer tests promptly to those who fall ill and need a diagnosis.

Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district is Finland's largest, and its director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen says that the ministry's line is understandable.

"Public sector resources would run low in many places, if people leaving on foreign trips began to seek tests in large numbers from public sector providers, even though provision of health certificates is a duty of public healthcare providers," said Lehtonen.

Omakanta certificates available

In reality, however, it's difficult to ascertain the real reason for a test while keeping a low threshold for getting tested.

Tests can be obtained from HUS based on a mobile app that asks a few questions about symptoms.

Lehtonen said that Covid symptoms could be quite general, however, such as a headache or stomach pains, and that truthful declaration of symptoms is a matter of individual conscience.

In the HUS region around 40,000 tests are conducted each week, and Lehtonen says the number has remained high despite the holiday season.

Finland's public insurance institution Kela will reimburse part of the cost of a test conducted by a private provider if it was part of a treatment or diagnostic plan, but not if it was conducted to obtain certification for travel.

Certification of Covid status is supplied via the omakanta.fi service, regardless of whether the test was conducted by a public or private provider.

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