From 16 February children can get tested for coronavirus from pharyngeal washings

SYNLAB will adopt a novel solution for coronavirus testing from 16 February – the virus can also be detected from pharyngeal washings. Initially, the additional sampling method will only be available for children, so as to make the process more comfortable for them. In the lab, the process remains the same – RNA is detected using the same PCR method as with nasopharyngeal sample material.

Children aged up to 18 can give a pharyngeal washings sample at public testing points and paid SYNLAB coronavirus testing points. Children arriving at the testing point are free to choose whether they prefer the ordinary nasopharyngeal sampling method (WHO’s primary recommendation) or the novel pharyngeal washings solution. Even though the cost of taking the pharyngeal washings sample is higher, the price for the patients remains the same as the nasopharyngeal swab.

To ensure proper collection of the pharyngeal washings sample material, the sample can only be given at the testing point under a health professional’s supervision. To give the sample, the patient is given 10 millilitres of physiological saline solution (sodium chloride), which the patient gargles (Please note that it’s not a mouthwash. The solution is used for the throat!). The health professional draws some of the liquid in the cup into a special vacuum collection tube, labels it with patient details and sends it to the lab for PCR testing. The test results become available in the environment within 24-48 hours, similarly to the nasopharyngeal swab test. Certificates for travelling are also issued based on the pharyngeal washings sample result.

Karin Kallikorm, Chief Customer Service Officer at SYNLAB Eesti: “Initially, the service will be available for children aged up to 18 years, in order to make the testing process more comfortable for them. It is important to note that it is currently not possible to give a sample with the new pharyngeal washings method at border crossing points, as the procedure takes slightly longer. As tests are administered on a first-come, first-served basis in border crossing points, this would prolong the waiting time for all travellers even further.”

Kallikorm suggests that the parents and children first practice gargling at home with tap water. This way, children already know what to expect from the procedure.

The procedure of reserving a time for testing is the same for nasopharyngeal swab and pharyngeal washings. The family doctor issues a referral letter or the patient books an appointment at one of SYNLAB’s paid testing points by phone at 17123 or by email at Testing based on pharyngeal washings is available for children under the age of 18 at the following testing points:

 – In Tallinn at Medicum tents next to the Song Festival Grounds, next to Punane 61 and next to Mustamäe Health Centre, at the SYNLAB tent next to Saku Concert Hall, and at the paid testing point at Töökoja 1;
– In Tartu at the Qualitas tent next to the Song Festival Grounds, and at SYNLAB at Teguri 37b;
– In Pärnu at the Qvalitas tent in the beach parking lot, and in the SYNLAB testing point it Suur-Sepa St.;
– In Narva at the Gate Corrigo testing point and at SYNLAB on Kangelaste prospect;
– In Viljandi, Valga and Võru in the Qvalitas tent;
– In Rakvere Polyclinic and Jõhvi at SYNLAB, and in Haapsalu and Paide in the SYNLAB testing point;
– In Kohtla-Järve and Sillamäe in Ida-Viru central hospital tents;
– In Võru, Põlva, Kuressaare, Kärdla and Rapla in hospital testing points.