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Bavaria: COVID-19 test mishap leaves 44,000 travelers on tenterhooks

  • August 13, 2020

Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder was to meet with state government officials on Thursday after a serious breakdown of coronavirus test centers on state highways.

Söder has fielded criticism after Bavaria’s Health Minister Melanie Huml announced on Wednesday that 44,000 travelers returning to Germany’s largest state were still awaiting their COVID-19 test results, of which 900 are positive.

Read more: Germany ‘optimistic’ about coronavirus vaccine soon

Following the announcement, Söder, who had to cancel a holiday to the North Sea coast, called the situation “very, very frustrating.” 

“This must be fixed immediately and must not happen again,” he said in a tweet Wednesday. “All structures must be checked immediately.”

German Health Minister Jens Spahn came to Söder’s defense, saying during an appearance on public broadcaster ZDF that “mistakes happen in such extraordinary times.”

Both Söder and Huml are expected to speak at a press conference later Thursday.

Motorway mishap

Huml said on Wednesday that a majority of the returning travelers awaiting COVID-19 results were tested in three coronavirus testing stations on Bavarian highways. She said the ministry had “no knowledge yet if any samples have been lost.”

Travelers have been able get tested at such centers since July 30 as Bavaria, which has had the highest rate of infection of any German state since the pandemic began, grapples with the virus. But according to the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, several travelers have complained that they have received the results of their test very late.

Huml said the main reason for the late results was that, until recently, test data was entered manually into tables on Microsoft’s Excel program. She said the state health ministry had tried to solve the problem by increasing the number of staff, “but the number of tests has been increasing each day.”

Initially, employees of aid organizations were responsible for entering coronavirus data, but private companies are now gradually taking over the tests. Huml said she expects the tests to run more smoothly in the future.

Bavaria’s Red Cross also said that it was tasked with setting up five testing centers in one day and technology to help them do so was not made available, which is why the test results had to be entered manually.

dv/rt (AFP, dpa)

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