Coronavirus: Mass testing in establishments begins in April

19/03/2021 (14:30)
Press release
Department of Health

Coronavirus mass testing in establishments in the Canton of Basel-Stadt begins in April. The Department of Health Basel-Stadt will then be launching an online platform where interested establishments can register. The Department of Health is currently running pilot projects in two establishments.

The Department of Health Basel-Stadt presented its concept for coronavirus mass testing at the beginning of March (press release of 5 March 2021). By extending its testing strategy to asymptomatic individuals, the Canton of Basel-Stadt is following a situational approach that makes flexible use of the infrastructure. The aim is to achieve a balanced cost/benefit relationship. Targeted, widespread testing to find asymptomatic coronavirus carriers is supposed to engender public acceptance of asymptomatic testing.

The coronavirus mass testing concept in Basel-Stadt also provides for targeted, widespread testing in establishments. This mainly focuses on establishments with a higher likelihood of transmission or increased risk of outbreaks (unavoidable close contact between staff, e.g. in restaurant kitchens or on production lines), as well as on establishments with customer contact in the service sector and systemically important services (e.g. police, fire, rescue, energy supply).

Online platform goes live in April

The Department of Health is currently running pilot projects in two establishments in order to implement software and test processes. The waste incineration plant and the Veterinary Office [Veterinäramt] are both public enterprises with a high risk profile. Two more pilot projects will be starting next week. The first test run did not reveal any positive test results. The actual start of mass testing in establishments is planned for April. At the same time, an online platform will also be launched on the website of the Canton of Basel-Stadt www.coronavirus.bs.ch where interested establishments can register. Testing will be organised according to the risk profile of the establishments. It will begin in those with increased likelihood of transmission. Interested establishments must present a safety policy. They must provide information about the required testing concept (groups of individuals, type of test, etc.) during online registration. The concept is then implemented in cooperation with an internal person on site. Antigen rapid tests require specialist staff on site. The Department of Health is offering the establishments support with organisation, communication, laboratory, logistics and IT. The decision about the sequence of participation will be made once the concepts have been sent in. Pre-registration is already open to establishments that do not have an increased transmission risk and that wish to participate at a later date.

The Department of Health will announce the exact start date for mass testing in establishments and provide additional information at a later date. Participation is voluntary. Testing does not exempt participating establishments from the obligation to work from home while this is prescribed by the Federal Government. However, the establishments are exempt from the quarantine obligation provided that at least 80 percent of staff on site are participating in testing.

Testing in sociomedical institutions

The coronavirus mass testing concept in the Canton of Basel-Stadt also provides for targeted, widespread testing in sociomedical institutions. Mass testing is already taking place in care and nursing homes. Preparation of tests is underway at the University Hospital of Basel and testing will begin next week. The Department of Health is also offering professional and conceptual support to sociomedical institutions. The aim is to reduce the overall risk with targeted, widespread testing of groups of people (staff, visitors) who come into direct contact with individuals who are at particularly high risk.