Whole station under quarantine UK variant detected in Bonn hospital

Bonn · At the Helios Klinikum in Bonn, two nurses and at least three patients have been infected with the particularly contagious virus variant. Cologne and the Rhein-Sieg district are searching much more intensively for coronavirus mutations than the city of Bonn.

 A PCR test is being prepared for a diagnostic test to identify any new virus strains.

A PCR test is being prepared for a diagnostic test to identify any new virus strains.

Foto: dpa/Sebastian Gollnow

The UK virus mutation has been detected in a hospital in Bonn. At the Helios Klinikum Bonn/Rhein-Sieg, two employees and three patients are confirmed to have the variant B.1.1.7, which is considered to be particularly contagious, as the health department confirmed on Friday in response to a GA inquiry. Another patient at the former Maltese Hospital is suspected to have the mutated virus as well.

According to GA information, the urological department at the hospital is affected. The first patient confirmed to carry the virus mutation was probably already operated on Monday last week, according to sources at the hospital. The mandatory Covid-19 test taken upon admission to the hospital had been negative. A repeat test was ordered only after the patient from Euskirchen complained of having a sore throat following the operation.

After two nurses who took care of the patient also tested positive for the mutation, all staff and patients on the ward were tested. Result: two more patients tested positive. A fourth person who tested positive for Covid-19 had already been discharged, but his test results had not yet been evaluated for the mutation. The man apparently lives in Siegburg.

All staff from the department in domestic quarantine

"The patient was discharged to domestic quarantine at his place of residence," explained Bonn's deputy city spokesman Marc Hoffmann. "The appropriate health department has been informed of the suspected presence of the UK variant and will take further action." The Helios Klinkum also acknowledged the five cases, without providing details. "We have carried out comprehensive testing for the affected ward and imposed an admission ban until all test results are available,” said hospital spokeswoman Christina Fuhrmann. The strict protective measures in place (see "Safety Protocol") also serve to contain viral mutations.

The staff of that department - 27 people in total - has been sent to domestic quarantine, according to the city of Bonn. But the uninfected doctors and nurses are to continue working. Every day before work they have what is called a PoC test and monitor for symptoms, and they get a PCR test every two to three days, as deputy city spokesman Hoffmann explained.

However, the Helios Klinikum reports that while the nurses in the urology department are not allowed to leave the ward during working hours, the doctors are deployed throughout the hospital, in the operating room and the emergency room. The hospital spokeswoman did not comment on this, despite specific inquiries.

Several cases of the UK variant in Bonn

B.1.1.7 is so far the only variant detected in Bonn, according to the city. By Friday, the city had reported 37 such cases. Among them are 16 people from a refugee home on Karl-Finkelnburg-Strasse in Bad Godesberg. The city has placed those who are infected in other accommodations. For the other residents of the shelter, the tests were negative, according to the press office, but will be repeated as a precaution. In the Hubert Peter Haus, the number of those with the UK variant has increased from eight to nine.

Unlike Cologne or the Rhein-Sieg district, the city of Bonn only investigates five percent of positive Covid-19 tests for the mutations using genome sequencing. This is in accordance with a requirement of the federal government, emphasized deputy city spokesman Hoffmann. Exactly how many samples that is, "the health department does not know.” Extra random testing is done where warranted, for example if there is an infection despite a vaccination or an unusual outbreak.

If there is even a mere suspicion of a coronavirus variant, the health department will order an extended quarantine from 10 to 14 days, applying to all members of the affected person's household. Before the end of the quarantine, another test must be taken. All contacts in the first category must also be quarantined for 14 days, which they cannot shorten even by testing negative.

Cologne is much harder hit by coronavirus mutations than Bonn. As of Feb. 10, the city reported 273 cases of the UK variant and 110 cases of the South African variant. They were found in one school, six daycare centers, one nursing home and eight hospitals. Since January 22, Cologne has had all positive coronavirus tests checked for mutations. According to the city administration, this does not involve sequencing, which reads the viruses' genetic material completely, takes several days and costs 229 euros per sample. Cologne relies on a "surrogate PCR test," as the press office there explained. The result is available after a few hours and costs only 59 euros.

(Orig. text: Andreas Baumann; Translation: ck)
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