NewsLaboratories reach their limits - use PCR tests sparingly

Laboratories reach their limits – use PCR tests sparingly

There are simply too many infected people: laboratories and offices are reaching their limits. This also causes problems for the RKI when assessing the corona situation. PCR tests should be used more sparingly.

Berlin – Due to the tense situation in the Corona laboratories, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recommends a more cautious use of PCR tests.

“In some regions laboratories are at the limit of their capacity. This is why it is currently necessary to prioritize the use of PCR tests in accordance with the national test strategy, ”wrote the RKI in its weekly report on Thursday evening. For example, PCR tests should be “critically examined under the aspect of the regionally available PCR capacities”.

PCR-Tests priorisieren

PCR tests, which are necessary for reliable detection of an infection, should, for example, only be used to a limited extent to shorten the quarantine and isolation times for contact persons and infected people. “For deprioritized occasions (according to the test strategy), high-quality antigen rapid tests should be used if there is a necessary indication.” Such rapid tests can be evaluated on site and do not require a laboratory.

There are fears that overloaded laboratories will not be able to report infections promptly and that this will distort the official statistics. In addition, experts assume that some health authorities are currently unable to report evidence due to the many corona cases.

RKI finds it difficult to assess numbers

This is one of the reasons why it is difficult for the RKI to assess the corona numbers that have recently fallen. “The sharp rise in the 7-day incidence in recent weeks has not continued in the past week,” says the weekly report. This could “on the one hand be a first indication of a slightly weakening dynamic in the transmission process due to the significantly intensified measures to reduce contact”. However, the development could “regionally also be due to the increasingly overloaded capacities in the public health service and the exhausted laboratory capacities”.

The 7-day incidence indicates how many infections are reported per 100,000 population per week. It had last decreased for three consecutive days, from 452.4 on Monday to 439.2 on Thursday. Especially for people aged 80 and over, the number of hospital admissions has recently risen rapidly, from eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week at the end of September to 43 cases in mid-November.

New measures decided

In the fight against the fourth corona wave, the federal and state governments decided on Thursday a series of measures with consequences for millions of citizens. Unvaccinated people are denied entry to most shops during the Christmas season. Pharmacies and nurses should also be able to take over vaccinations

According to the RKI, four cases of the Omikron variant have so far been confirmed by genome sequencing in Germany. These four cases are returnees from South Africa. The country had informed about the variant in the middle of last week. The four people were all vaccinated, none of them had to go to hospital for treatment, as the RKI announced. All of them showed only mild symptoms. According to the RKI, the information relates to advance information that was transmitted by Wednesday (December 1st).

Omikron: Eight other suspected cases

In eight other cases in Germany there is a suspicion of omicrons, these are currently being checked by genome sequencing – i.e. reading out the virus genome. However, experts assume an occurrence that goes beyond this. The EU health authority ECDC sees signs that the Omikron variant could be the dominant type in Europe in just a few months. dpa

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