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A page by the Federal Ministry of Health

Bundesministerium für Gesundheit
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Information on testing

Find out when a test against the novel coronavirus makes sense, who can be tested and how long the evaluation takes.

Test procedure

By testing for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, it can be shown whether the person being tested has had the infection. A blood test is needed. Antibody tests are currently being developed and validated. It must be ensured that the test only detects SARS-COV-2 antibodies, not other corona viruses which can cause colds and flu-like infections in humans (cross-reactions). The antibody test is not intended for use in acute diagnosis of infected patients and does not replace the diagnostics for detecting the virus by taking nasal or throat swabs, as antibodies are only detectable approximately two weeks after the onset of symptoms and approximately four weeks after infection. Antibody tests can detect an infection retrospectively and provide indications that a person may be immune. The extent to which the detection of antibodies is associated with immunity needs to be investigated in studies. The use of what are referred to as antibody rapid tests in medical practices is currently not recommended.

It is possible that a test is still negative, even though the person is already infected. If you suspect that you might have become infected, call your attending physician or dial the number 116 117. They will decide whether you need to be retested.

The testing process currently takes around four to five hours. This excludes the time taken for transport to the laboratory, preparation time in the laboratory and, where applicable, any waiting time on account of a high volume of samples. In the majority of cases, a result is available within 24 hours.

In most cases, disease progression after infection with the novel coronavirus is very mild and needs no treatment. Many infected persons do not even experience symptoms. The focus of treatment for a severe infection include: supportive measures, such as administering oxygen, circulatory support medication, if necessary antibiotics to combat bacterial alternative or co-infections, as well as the treatment of relevant underlying chronic illnesses. A specific treatment, in other words, one that is directed at the novel coronavirus itself, is currently not yet available.

The doctor’s assessment should be trusted. If your state of health deteriorates, please contact your doctor’s office again and have them tell you what to do next. Currently, hospitals and family physicians decide for themselves who will be tested. They base their decision on the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute.

A doctor who suspects his/her patient may be infected with the novel coronavirus must notify the public health office, according to the Ordinance on the obligation to report cases of coronavirus. When a laboratory confirms that a person has the novel coronavirus, it is also obliged to report this to the public health office. The report must be submitted without delay; the public health office must receive the information within 24 hours. The information transmitted includes the name, address and contact details of the person concerned so that the public health office can contact the person and initiate any necessary measures if needed. The competent health offices electronically transmit their data concerning COVID-19 cases to the competent Laender authorities who then pass the information on to the RKI, albeit without the name, address or contact details of those concerned. Further information is available on the RKI website.

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