Mayor Thomas Geisel (centre) introduced the new diagnostic centre for the Corona Virus together with Dr. Heinrich Labbert (SWD), Dr. Andre Schumacher (KV), Dr. Klaus Göbels (health authority) and the head of the fire service David von der Lieth.
Mayor Thomas Geisel (centre) introduced the new diagnostic centre for the Corona Virus together with Dr. Heinrich Labbert (SWD), Dr. Andre Schumacher (KV), Dr. Klaus Göbels (health authority) and the head of the fire service David von der Lieth. Photo: Wilfried Meyer

New diagnostic centre begins its work

Joint test centre organised by the city and general practitioners in Düsseldorf-Bilk

Following a period of two days in which a diagnostic centre for the Corona Virus (COVID-19) was established in the health authority of the state capital of Düsseldorf, a new test centre run by general practitioners began its work at a central point in Düsseldorf-Bilk on Wednesday 4th March.

Thanks to support from the Düsseldorf Municipal Housing Association (SWD), the city procured premises in Düsseldorf-Bilk, and provides logistic support. The staff are provided by the general practitioners. Appointments for a test for the Corona Virus are only issued via the information line under 0211-8996090. All citizens of Düsseldorf as well as those who work in the state capital may ring the hotline with questions on the Corona Virus. People from other cities are required to ring the authorities there.

View inside the Düsseldorf diagnostic centre, which operates with immediate effect as a test centre organised by the city and general practitioners.
View inside the Düsseldorf diagnostic centre, which operates with immediate effect as a test centre organised by the city and general practitioners.

Mayor Thomas Geisel: "We are very equipped with the diagnostic centre and the information hotline enabling us to offer citizens a very good service. In view of the fact that we were able to get these important facilities up and running in only a few days, my thanks are due to all those involved who have made this possible. In addition to general practitioners, who provide this service as well as operating their own practice, I would like to mention above all the colleagues of the health authority, the municipal information line and the fire service. And obviously my thanks are also due to Dr. Heinrich Labbert from the Municipal Housing Association. The SWD provided and equipped the premises very quickly and unbureaucratically."

In view of the necessity of having to provide staff for these functions probably for a long period of time, the Mayor appealed to the general practitioners to continue to provide this service. "This is primarily a function of the general practitioners. On the one hand, the diagnostic centre and the information line relieve the burden on doctors’ practices and on the other hand the risk that infected persons come to the practices and moreover infect people who are possibly already gravely ill is also minimised in this way", according to Mayor Geisel. An appeal has already been made to medical students and young municipal employees to volunteer their services on the information line. The hotline is accessible round the clock, also at weekends, under the telephone number 0211-8996090. Depending on requirements, manning of the information line will increase to 30 places.

Patients are tested for the Corona Virus with a throat swab. Photo: Uwe Schaffmeister
Patients are tested for the Corona Virus with a throat swab. Photo: Uwe Schaffmeister

Diagnostic centre only for people with an appointment for a test
Whenever it has been confirmed on the information line that a test is indicated, a test for the following day is also immediately arranged there. For organisational reasons, the diagnostic centre is unable to determine whether a test is indicated. It is therefore urgently recommended that one should not use public transport to travel to the diagnostic centre in order not to threaten those who are still healthy.  Anyone who is unable to reach the diagnostic centre should draw attention to this fact on the information line. In cooperation with the fire service, the medical team can then carry out the required throat swab at the subject’s home.

Since appointments for the Corona Test in the diagnostic centre have been issued (since Sunday 1st March), by yesterday (3rd March) only a total of 24 tests had been indicated. “The large number of calls on the information line and the low number of actual people tested shows how great the uncertainty is but also that this feeling is generally unfounded. Please keep calm. There is no reason to panic. The city is doing everything to keep the situation under control", says the Mayor.

According to guidelines issued by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a test for the Corona Virus is indicated if the person concerned was in one of the risk areas listed by the RKI during the period of time in question or has had direct contact with someone who has tested positive. Contrary to the RKI, the city of Düsseldorf also counts the district of Heinsberg as a risk area. One of the two cases of the Corona Virus in Düsseldorf had presumably become infected there. The second infected man from Düsseldorf had spent time in Lombardy. Both are only slightly ill and, according to information available to date, have not infected anyone else because they have not left their homes since they showed the first symptoms. "Exemplary behaviour", according to the head of the Düsseldorf health authority, Dr. Klaus Göbels.

Sign at the entrance to the diagnostic centre. Photo: Wilfried Meyer
Sign at the entrance to the diagnostic centre. Photo: Wilfried Meyer

In 80% of cases, the course of the infection is only mild
In 80% of cases, the course of the infection is extremely mild and some people do not even develop any symptoms of illness whatsoever. It is no problem when such people remain in quarantine at home. That means they may not leave their homes and must be provided with the necessities of everyday life by family members, friends and neighbours. In only 20% of cases are the symptoms serious, which then have to be treated in isolation in a hospital.

The health authority receives many enquiries as to whether establishments should be closed or events cancelled. Whether a company should send its employees home if one of the staff has become infected must be considered and decided in each individual case. That depends amongst other things on how many contacts with each other have taken place. The same applies to events. Not every group of visitors has the same risk potential. For this reason, exhibitions have already been postponed.
"At the moment, there is however no reason to paralyse public life", the Mayor Thomas Geisel emphasises. The city administration is currently preparing a leaflet explaining how event organisers should behave. This will be published today.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 4.20 pm