Starting from February 2020, entry screening was introduced for cold/flu symptoms at Minsk National Airport and all land border control points. Until 25 March 2020 all passengers arriving from the People’s Republic of China, Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, and Czechia were tested in the airport upon arrival and asked to self-isolate themselves until the results is received within 24 hours. Testing upon arrival was cancelled on 25 March 2020 with introduction of the measure described above (a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine requirement for persons entering Belarus from 169 countries where the COVID-19 virus is actively circulating - http://minzdrav.gov.by/upload/dadvfiles/letter/ПЕРЕЧЕНЬ%20СТРАН.pdf).
Testing at Minsk International Airport was reintroduced from the beginning of September. ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) testing is now available and anyone can be tested (arriving and departing passengers, aviation personnel, visitors and employees of the airport and other organizations). The laboratory is open Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 18.00. A transition to a round-the-clock operating mode will follow shortly. To get tested, a passport and a document confirming payment must be provided. From 1 October, an express test for COVID-19 with a new method of immunochromatographic analysis (ICA) will be available at Minsk National Airport.
Testing in health care facilities was performed mostly at primary care level, less was done at hospital level. Suspected cases were tested during visits to GPs and at the reception hospitals, then hospitalized if symptoms were present or sent home to isolate if not. Their close contacts were also requested to isolate pending testing.
There are 7 laboratories performing COVID-19 tests in Belarus, located in 4 institutions: the National Scientific and Practical Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology [RRPCEM] (4 laboratories), the National Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [RCHEPH] (1 laboratory), the Mogilev regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Mogilev CHEPH] (1 laboratory), the Gomel regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Gomel CHEPH] (1 laboratory). The number of tests per day to date and the potential capacity currently available are as follows: RRPCEM - 750/900, RCHEPH - 250/300, Mogilev CHEPH - 150/270, Gomel CHEPH - 50/360.
The following 5 laboratories are planned to be additionally used for COVID-19 testing: Brest regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Brest CHEPH] (1 laboratory), Vitebsk regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Vitebsk CHEPH] (1 laboratory), Grodno regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Grodno CHEPH] (1 laboratory), Minsk regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Minsk CHEPH] (1 laboratory), Minsk city Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health [Minsk city CHEPH] (1 laboratory). The molecular medicine laboratory of Grodno State Medical University was reoriented to conduct COVID-19 tests. The laboratory has modern equipment for molecular genetic research. It was converted at the expense of university funds to work with especially dangerous infections, made a separate entrance, and acquired a modern bacteriological safety box. Employees perform more than 200 tests per day.
As of 19 July, almost 1.2 million tests had been conducted in Belarus (over 10,000 in the past 24 hours). WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with ECDC has sent a checklist for the overall laboratory capacity self-assessment to Belarus and received it back. At the request of the Ministry of Health, WHO has provided 6,000 tests for COVID-19 from the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, which is a WHO Collaborating Centre. From 6 May, the National Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health has been trialing the use of antibody tests.
According to a decree from 30 October, certain categories of citizens will be subject to compulsory medical examination for the presence of COVID-19 infection if they are a first-level contact or a second-le vel contact with COVID-19 symptoms and they are: children under the age of 10 attending school; people going into hospital for planned medical care; medical workers caring for COVID-19 patients. In addition, the document establishes a list of symptoms, which are the basis for compulsory medical examination for COVID-19 infection where there has been potential contact.