Four weeks ago, Lufthansa and Centogene opened a mass COVID-19 testing facility at Frankfurt Airport. The program has been an enormous success with travelers, with the center having processed around 40,000 tests since it first opened. As the German government looks to bring in stricter testing protocols, the throughput could be set to increase.
Governments around the globe are increasingly looking towards COVID-19 tests to minimize the risk of COVID-19 being spread via air travel. In Germany, a COVID-19 test can be taken before departure or upon arrival. If taken upon arrival, the test will allow passengers to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine should they test negative.
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It seems as though Lufthansa’s partnership with Centogene is proving to be a huge success. Since the testing center opened four weeks ago, around 40,000 tests have been administered, with approximately 2,000 per day currently taking place.
When Simple Flying visited the testing center today, the queue for the facility proved its popularity. Indeed, the service is so popular that Cetogene has opened a second test center on the site to cope with increasing demand.
As we mentioned, around 40,000 tests have so far been carried out. Volkmar Weckesser, the Chief Information Officer of Centogene, told us that so far, only about 100 of those who have so far been screened have tested positive for COVID-19, a rate of just 0.25%. Interestingly, he added that the majority of those who had tested positive had traveled from countries defined as low risk by the Robert Koch Institute, such as France and Denmark.
Centogene has developed its own COVID-19 test. The test is also manufactured in Germany. By using their own test, they can avoid shortages of tests. Meanwhile, as they are made in Germany, there is no importation process to follow.
How does the process work?
While visiting Frankfurt Airport, Weckesser showed Simple Flying around the testing center. Those using the facility are advised to register and pay online before their arrival. Weckesser pointed out that while the majority of those using the facility were Lufthansa passengers, it is open to everybody, including local residents. He remarked that some people were coming to take the test before visiting at-risk family members.
Upon arrival, passengers are sent to different queues depending on whether they have pre-registered, and if they have paid for the fast track test. Having declared their arrival, passengers are given a box containing the test itself, information, and a unique code to help with tracking the test results.
Those being tested then join another queue to wait for a member of testing staff to become available. They then step into a booth where a swab from the back of their throat is taken. Once the swabs have been completed, they are then registered to the individual who leaves.
The tests are then taken to a warehouse around 2-3km away in Frankfurt’s Höchst district. This facility can process 12,000 tests daily. Depending on the test purchased, results will be available within 2-3 hours, or 4-6 hours. The results are delivered electronically and protected with blockchain encryption.
Mandatory testing coming
The facility will likely become even busier from Monday when Germany is set to make COVID-19 testing mandatory for all travelers coming into the country from high-risk areas. Currently, testing is optional for those arriving from high-risk countries. However, a negative test will allow them to avoid quarantine.
The German government will pay for any mandatory tests, meaning that travelers originating in high-risk countries won’t have an additional financial burden. In this case, Centogene will administer the test, then claims the costs back from the government.
Have you taken a test at Frankfurt’s facility? How did you find the experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!