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Hohl, Hannah Tuulikki; Heumann, Christian; Rothe, Camilla; Hoelscher, Michael ORCID: 0000-0002-7642-1835; Janke, Christian; Froeschl, Guenter (2022): COVID-19 Testing Unit Munich: Impact of Public Health and Safety Measures on Patient Characteristics and Test Results, January to September 2020. Frontiers in Public Health, 10: 856189. ISSN 2296-2565

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To assess the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions, the number of reported positive test results is frequently used as an estimate of the true number of population-wide infections. We conducted a retrospective observational analysis of patient data of the Corona Testing Unit (CTU) in Munich, Bavaria, Germany between January 27th, and September 30th, 2020. We analyzed the course of daily patient numbers over time by fitting a negative binomial model with multiple breakpoints. Additionally, we investigated possible influencing factors on patient numbers and characteristics by literature review of policy papers and key informant interviews with individuals involved in the set-up of the CTU. The 3,963 patients included were mostly young (median age: 34, interquartile range: 27–48), female (66.2%), and working in the healthcare sector (77%). For these, 5,314 real-time RT-PCR tests were conducted with 157 (2.94%) positive results. The overall curve of daily tests and positive results fits the re-ported state-wide incidence in large parts but shows multiple breakpoints with considerable trend changes. These can be most fittingly attributed to testing capacities and -strategies and individual risk behavior, rather than public health measures. With the large impact on patient numbers and pre-test probabilities of various strategic and operational factors, we consider the derived re-ported incidence as a poor measurement to base policy decisions on. Testing units should be prepared to encounter these fluctuations with a quickly adaptable structure.

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