Bavaria hit by coronavirus testing crisis amid rise in number of cases in Germany
Germany has reported another increase in new coronavirus cases, with 1,445 within 24 hours. It came as 44,000 people were still waiting for their test results in Bavaria.
The southern state is struggling to cope with the number of people being tested on return to the country.
And it emerged on Thursday that around 44,000 out of 85,000 people haven't yet been told of their results several days after being tested.
Among the results are 900 positive tests. The state government said that problems with the manual input of data and a high uptake of the service was to blame for the delay.
It came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across Germany rose again to 1,445 within 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute reported on Thursday August 13th.
What's the reaction to Bavaria?
State premier Markus Söder has cancelled his visit to the North Sea this week to deal with the "mistake".
"This must be corrected immediately and must not happen again," said Söder who heads up the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel's CDU.
State health minister Melanie Huml on Wednesday admitted that about 44,000 travel returnees had not yet received a test result, including 900 people found to have Covid-19.
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Huml said those who tested positive should receive their results by Thursday noon. She said she regretted the delay. There is a "transmission problem", she said, adding: "there is nothing to gloss over".
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn on Thursday said it was crucial that authorities were transparent and corrected problems quickly "and this is what the Bavarian state government is doing", he said.
Spahn added: "In principle, I am very grateful that we are testing extensively, that the Bavarians are also making it possible to test, for example, when entering the country by car at rest stops. But then, of course, the results must also be communicated."
Markus Söder of the CSU. Photo: DPA
Why is there a communication delay?
The delay is due to problems with the manual transfer of data and an unexpectedly high use of the service, said Andreas Zapf, President of the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety.
He described it as a "breakdown". Some of the forms of those tested were incomplete or difficult to read, and they also had to be compared with the codes of throat swabs.
Since July 25th, travellers have been able to have themselves tested on arrival at Munich and Nuremberg airports, and since the beginning of August in Memmingen. Initially the offer was voluntary, but for holidaymakers from high-risk areas, testing has been mandatory throughout Germany since Saturday.
Since the end of July, the Bavarian government has also had test stations set up at Munich and Nuremberg central stations and at the motorway service stations Hochfelln-Nord (A8), Inntal-Ost (A93) and Donautal-Ost (A3).
These were initially operated by aid organisations. From this week, however, private providers have taken over operation. There are plans to digitalise data transmission at all points.
Söder said on Monday that Bavaria was the only state with this service, but that people from all regions of Germany could be tested there.
According to Huml, about 85,000 such tests have taken place so far in total. The communication problems, however, are mainly affecting test stations at Autobahn rest stops and train stations, where a total of almost 60,000 people have been tested.
Huml and Zapf could not say how many of the 900 people who tested positive came from Bavaria and how many from the rest of Germany. The health ministry referred to a random sample from the past weeks – 40 percent of the tests were from people from Bavaria.
Zapf said that most of those who'd contracted coronavirus had been found on the A3 near Passau but he did not give exact figures.