Corona test centers: When the examiners come to test


Status: 01/22/2022 02:12 a.m

Whether in pavilions or kiosk back rooms: more and more corona test centers are being opened. But not all work seriously. Inspectors check that everything is running correctly.

By Christian Kretschmer, SWR

Anja Brilmayer watches closely as the “brush” of the swab disappears into the nose. The head of the hygiene department in the Bad Kreuznach health department examines how a rapid corona test is carried out in a test station in the pedestrian zone – and is satisfied so far. “Many are too afraid of hurting the subjects,” says Brilmayer. “An incorrectly performed corona test is the greater evil.”

Christian Kretschmer

In the further procedure, Brilmayer has something to complain about: The test center employee explains that she always puts four to five droplets of the liquid in the test cassette. A quick glance at the instructions shows that this is too much. “Three drops, no more please!” warns Brilmayer.

Controls in the test centers: hygiene inspector Mario Maurer takes a close look.

Bild: SWR

In the worst case, life-threatening

A deviation from the manufacturer’s specifications could falsify the result, says the medical officer – and in the worst case, be life-threatening if an infection is passed on undetected. On average, Brilmayer and her colleagues check 15 test sites every week. Nothing more can be done. But in Rhineland-Palatinate alone there are currently more than 2,300 registered test centers. “They are literally shooting out of the ground at the moment. We can hardly keep up,” says Brilmayer.

She is supported on the tours by hygiene inspector Mario Maurer and Kerstin Schäfer, who works in the hygiene department at the health department. Schäfer keeps a log of the inspection: five pages document whether the tests were carried out correctly and whether hygiene standards were observed.

The mandatory training certificates of the test center employees are also checked. Brilmayer leafs through a folder: every employee at the controlled test center has an official certificate from the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. To get that, all you have to do is take a short online course. “That’s better than nothing,” says Brilmayer. “Ultimately it depends on the individual employees.” Additional training by doctors is recommended.

Medical officer Brilmayer explains the process of a corona test

Bild: SWR

“We only know everything from written sources”

At the second test point, which is headed for by the inspectors, hygiene inspector Maurer notices the warehouse in particular. At the end of the entrance area, he pushes aside a hanging plastic tarpaulin. It is only now that it can be seen that the station was set up in an empty hairdressing salon. On the floor: half-open garbage bags with used protective gowns; a single unused smock in stock. “That’s far too little. You should have at least five fresh ones per employee,” explains Maurer to the employee responsible. Because the smocks have to be changed at the latest after a positive corona test – and they are currently piling up.

The employee appears insightful. “We only know everything from written sources,” she says. “But if you’re tested again here in practice, that’s good, so we know if things are going right or not.

However, something is still wrong in the test station: it is too cold. A thermometer on the wall shows 13 degrees Celsius. “The tests should be carried out at room temperature,” says hygiene inspector Maurer. Otherwise there is a risk of an incorrect result.

The “mildest means” is not always enough

The inspectors of the health department have already had to permanently close a test station. Staff had issued test evidence despite several test results being invalid. In addition, the operator was “resistant to advice”, says doctor Brilmayer. The inspectors always try to use the “least means” – but sometimes even advice doesn’t help.

The third inspection of the day is not supposed to stop there: the inspectors crowd into a narrow, empty jewelry store that has been converted into a test site. You take a close look at the packaged tests: they have the required “CE” mark, but they are still not allowed to be used here. Because these are self-tests, which can be clearly read on the packaging. However, the test centers must use so-called PoC tests, i.e. quick tests for use by trained personnel.

Test site has been closed

“What you are doing is an official test. You also officially bill for the tests,” Brilmayer explains to the operator. He says he didn’t know anything about it; he had been assured by his dealer that he could use the tests. He has already ordered a four-digit number of the tests, brought them to several locations and used some of them.

Last but not least, this means that the test certificates that have been issued so far should never have been issued. Brilmayer and her colleagues are taking action and closing the test center until the operator has gotten the right tests. Later they drop by again: New tests, this time correct, are there – the operation continues.

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