GMS Hygiene and Infection Control (Dec 2022)

Detection of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections in daycare centers, schools, and companies for regional pandemic containment by a PCR testing laboratory cooperative between July 2021 and June 2022

  • Bertram, Ralph,
  • Grebenstein, Laura,
  • Gualdi, Stefanie,
  • Seibold, Bernd,
  • Birkmann, Ralf,
  • Korn, Klaus,
  • Bisping, Johannes,
  • Schabik, Ralf

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 17
p. Doc22


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As an important element in the regional containment of the COVID-19 pandemic a PCR testing laboratory with a cooperative character was founded in spring 2021 to screen for SARS-CoV-2 in the Nuremberg region, Germany. The aim was to detect asymptomatic infections in day care facilities for children, schools, and companies. The laboratory used an established RT-PCR protocol and analyzed approximately 18,500 pools of up to 25 pooled samples each from gargles or swabs (“lollipops”) from up to 135 facilities between July 2021 and June 2022. Usually, the participating facilities were informed about positive pools within a few hours. Retention samples from positive pools were usually analyzed on the same day, and the results were reported to the facilities as well as the German Electronic Reporting and Information System (DEMIS). In the laboratory results, both the local incidences and the transition from the Delta- to the Omicron surge in early 2022 were well reflected. It is plausible that about 4,800 secondary infections could be prevented from the approximately 1,570 positive individual samples detected in conjunction with appropriate isolation measures. Such a PCR laboratory, which is characterized by short response times and high flexibility, can thus provide valuable services for regional surveillance of infection incidence.