The high number of cases due to the Omicron variant of the Corona virus has caused laboratories throughout Switzerland to reach the limits of their capacity. A partner laboratory of the Canton of Zug can no longer analyse the series tests at the schools in a timely manner. The tests at several schools in the canton have therefore had to be temporarily suspended.
The Omicron variant continues to cause high numbers of new corona infections and, as a result, the laboratory capacities for the evaluation of PCR tests are starting to reach their limits throughout Switzerland. Due to this overload, a partner laboratory of the Canton of Zug is no longer able to carry out the analyses of the series tests in the schools, according to the press release of the Health Directorate. This laboratory in question is responsible for the analysis of various schools in the municipalities of Cham, Hünenberg, Oberägeri, Unterägeri, Risch-Rotkreuz, Steinhausen and Zug. The series tests must therefore be temporarily suspended with immediate effect at certain schools in these municipalities.
Overall, almost half of the schoolchildren who have previously taken series tests will now have to do without them. "We regret this step," says Landammann Martin Pfister in the statement. "Over the course of the pandemic so far, series tests at schools have proven to be an effective and well-accepted means of maintaining face-to-face teaching." All the students and parents have already been informed directly about the procedure at their respective school.
Corona tests in the schools
Timely analysis no longer possible
The current development of the pandemic has placed an unprecedented burden on testing capacities. The Canton of Zug works together with several laboratories for the evaluation of the series tests – but a timely evaluation of the tests can no longer be achieved at all of them. "The school tests can only achieve their goal if the results are available no later than the day after the sample is taken," says cantonal physician Rudolf Hauri in the press release. The Canton of Zug will nevertheless remain in close contact with the laboratories. As soon as the analysis capacities allow, series tests at all schools should be resumed at a later date. The tests can still be continued to the usual extent In the municipalities of Baar, Menzingen, Neuheim and Walchwil.
Class quarantines not regarded as a suitable substitute
Even after this step, the canton's primary goal is to continue with face-to-face teaching. Quarantine orders for entire classes will therefore not be used unless absolutely necessary. In the case of schools that can no longer participate in the series tests, outbreak management will be intensified if proven cases arise. In this way, virus activity can be quickly detected in affected classes, after which measures can be ordered where necessary. "This means that we will always keep an eye on the situation in these schools, and can react quickly if necessary," explains Pfister. No quarantine will apply to vaccinated and recovered students. The same applies to all the students who have always worn a protective mask during class.
Masks, ventilation and testing for symptoms even more important
The elimination of the series tests makes the other protective measures in school lessons even more important. All students are urged to wear a mask indoors at all times, and the classrooms should be well ventilated every 20 minutes. Any students and teachers who experience even mild cold symptoms should stay at home and be tested as soon as possible. The three test centres of the Zug hospitals in Zug, Cham and Rotkreuz, as well as various pharmacies, are focussing their services on testing of symptomatic persons, in order to ensure that these people receive a test appointment quickly. An overview of all test sites can be found online.