Find out when a test against the novel coronavirus makes sense, who can be tested and how long the evaluation takes.
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.
If you suspect that you might have become infected, contact your attending physician or dial the number 116 117. He/she will decide whether you need to be tested, will discuss the next steps with you and where the test should be conducted. If you had contact with persons who have tested positive, contact your local public health office for a personal interview so they can recommend individual measures.
Hospitals, family physicians and medical officers decide who will be tested. They base their decisions on the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute. Testing is currently being done on a priority basis among people with acute respiratory symptoms and/or those who are suffering from a loss of smell or taste, whether risk factors are present or not. In addition, people who have had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case and show symptoms consistent with the disease, as well as people showing signs of viral pneumonia with some connection to a cluster of pneumonia cases at a long-term care facility or hospital are being tested.
Hospitals, family physicians and medical officers decide who will be tested. Testing should be performed only if disease symptoms are present. If you are healthy, but still in the incubation period, a negative test will not be able to determine whether you may not still fall ill in the future. Furthermore, this puts an unnecessary strain on our testing capacities.
By and large, health insurance funds have been covering the cost of coronavirus testing since 28 February 2020. The prerequisite is that the attending physician decides whether the patient should be tested.