Swiss labs deny being slow with Covid-19 test results

Many Swiss labs are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week Keystone

The President of the Swiss Laboratory Association has rejected criticism from the cantons and a leading epidemiologist that the delivery of contact-tracing test results has been tardy. The laboratories have massively expanded their capacities since April, he says.

This content was published on September 1, 2020 - 09:44

Willi Conrad said in an interview with Tamedia newspapers on Tuesday that the rhythm of the tests had not changed. As a rule, test results are delivered on the same day or the following day. But sometimes this is not possible within 24 hours, he said.

Last month Marcel Salathé, an epidemiologist and director of the digital epidemiology lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), said people were being informed too late via contact tracing and testing.

With around 10,000 tests per day, the laboratories are currently well utilised, Conrad said. The maximum theoretical capacity is 20,000 tests per day. During the first wave of Covid-19 in April the load was much higher and reached the capacity limit.

The fastest method is for a sample to be taken directly from the laboratory, but it makes sense to get a doctor’s assessment before testing a patient for Covid-19, he said. He added that Swiss laboratories worked significantly faster than some abroad and many are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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