Working Paper Review Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

COVID-19: Cross-border contact tracing in Germany, February-April 2020

Version 1 : Received: 4 December 2020 / Approved: 7 December 2020 / Online: 7 December 2020 (12:02:23 CET)

How to cite: Markus, I.; Steffen, G.; Lachmann, R.; Marquis, A.; Schneider, T.; Tomczyk, S.; Koppe, U.; Rohde, A.M.; Schink, S.B.; Seifried, J.; Domaszewska, T.; Rexroth, U.; an der Heiden, M. COVID-19: Cross-border contact tracing in Germany, February-April 2020. Preprints 2020, 2020120141 Markus, I.; Steffen, G.; Lachmann, R.; Marquis, A.; Schneider, T.; Tomczyk, S.; Koppe, U.; Rohde, A.M.; Schink, S.B.; Seifried, J.; Domaszewska, T.; Rexroth, U.; an der Heiden, M. COVID-19: Cross-border contact tracing in Germany, February-April 2020. Preprints 2020, 2020120141

Abstract

Abstract Introduction:The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) managed the exchange of cross-border contact tracing data between public health authorities (PHA) in Germany and abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aim: We aimed to describe the extent of RKI cross-border contact tracing and the challenges experienced. Methods:We analysed cross-border COVID-19 contact tracing events from 03 February to 05 April 2020 using information exchanged through the European “Early Warning Response System” (EWRS) as well as communication with International Health Regulation (IHR) national focal points. We described events by PHA involved, number of contact persons and exposure context. Results:The RKI processed 467 events, initiating contact to PHA 1,099 times (median 1, IQR [1;2]) and sharing data on 5,099 contact persons. Of 327 (70%) events with known exposure context, most common reported were exposures on aircraft 64 (14%), on cruise ships 24 (5%) and exposures related to non-transport contexts 210 (45%). Cruise ship and aircraft exposures yielded higher median numbers of authorities contacted (10[2;16], 4[2;11]) and contact persons (60 [9;269], 2[1;3]) than non-transport related exposures (1[1;6] and 1[1;2]), respectively. The median time spend on contact tracing activities was the highest for cruise ships: 5 days [IQR 3;9]. Conclusion:In the current COVID-19 pandemic cross-border contact tracing is considered a critical component of the outbreak response. While the majority of international contact tracing activities did not relate to exposure events in transport, they contributed substantially to the workload. The numerous communications highlight the need for fast and efficient global outbreak communication channels between PHA.

Subject Areas

pandemic preparedness; contact tracing; cross-broader; International Health Regulations; Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Germany

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