Status: 01/14/2022 1:05 p.m. Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Health recommends avoiding PCR tests when it comes to ending quarantine or isolation prematurely. From Saturday, a negative quick test will suffice. Both test methods, the certified rapid test and the PCR test, are permitted under the planned quarantine regulation. Only employees in hospitals and in care still have to prove a negative PCR test. According to the ministry, this is about keeping society going. If everyone had to wait for the PCR test result, they would be in quarantine for at least an extra day. The result of the quick test, on the other hand, is available after a quarter of an hour. Further information Home antigen tests are designed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The result is already available after 15 minutes. more
Are rapid antigen tests sufficient?
How reliably rapid antigen tests detect an infection – especially with the omicron variant – in contrast to the PCR tests has been the subject of heated debate for weeks. Michael Heins, head of the laboratory at the Osnabrück Clinic and representative of the Lower Saxony regional group in the professional association of laboratory doctors, says the difficult thing is the quality of the tests. It’s interesting how big the differences are. Test results would also be affected by temperature, for example. He suspects that results from an outdoor container test center may be less reliable because the test material is colder.
Country considers risk to be acceptable
Rapid tests are not as safe as PCR tests, but the risk is justifiable, said Oliver Grimm, spokesman for the Lower Saxony Ministry of Health, on Friday. In the end, the risk of infection at Omikron was lower. So if rapid tests at the end of a quarantine don’t work, it’s very likely that there are no or very few viruses left. However, infections are still possible, said Grimm, who expressly pointed out that a quick test must be carried out in a test center, in the pharmacy or at the doctor’s for early free testing from quarantine or isolation.
Laboratories should be relieved
According to the Ministry of Health, free testing with a rapid test is intended to relieve the burden on the laboratories. Nationwide, the responsible laboratories that examine PCR tests are currently able to carry out around 2.5 million PCR tests per week. However, if the number of cases continues to increase rapidly in view of the omicron variant, it may be necessary to prioritize the investigations, said spokesman Grimm. “The more this variant spreads, the more pressure there will be on test capacities.” And then there will also have to be a prioritization of the PCR tests. What such a prioritization could look like is being discussed in the federal government’s crisis team. “The situation is not there yet. We are preparing for it.”
Delivery bottlenecks in the laboratories
Grimm emphasized that the private laboratories that evaluate the PCR tests work internationally. According to the Association of Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM), the laboratories are currently running at around 65 percent capacity. According to Heins, head of the Osnabrück laboratory, the number of samples that can be examined also depends on the staff, equipment, space and material. According to him, there are regular supply slumps and defects in pipette tips, swabs and test tubes, for example. The Osnabrück Clinic has built up such a large stock that it can continue for at least two months. Heins sees the laboratories in the country basically at the limit. Should a giant wave come now, the laboratories could temporarily do more through overtime and extra work. But that doesn’t go on forever. AUDIO: (107) Risk and Hope (102 min)
Quarantine without a test ends after ten days
From Saturday, relaxed quarantine rules should apply in Lower Saxony in accordance with the decisions of the federal-state conference. Accordingly, isolation and quarantine usually end after ten days. After seven days you can also be free tested with both test methods. So far, a strict 14-day quarantine has applied to contact persons of a person infected with Omikron without the possibility of free testing. On Friday, the Federal Council also approved the changed quarantine rules, thus creating the legal framework. It is also planned that boosted contact persons of corona infected people will no longer have to go into quarantine. Further information More Sunday work – if necessary – and up to 60 working hours per week: criticism comes from the Marburger Bund. (01/11/2022) More Further information The RKI reports 6,457 new infections. Further values such as the hospitalization rate can be found here. more The virologist emphasized that the vaccination gap in Germany does not yet allow the virus to “let it run”. More corona news in the live ticker. more Corona in Lower Saxony – Current reports This topic in the program:
NDR 1 Lower Saxony | Current | 01/14/2022 | 09:00 a.m
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