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1.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21266298

ABSTRACT

Outbreaks of COVID at university campuses can spread rapidly and threaten the broader community. We describe the management of an outbreak at a Malawian university in April-May 2021 during Malawis second wave. Classes were suspended following detection of infections by routine testing and campus-wide PCR mass testing was conducted. Fifty seven cases were recorded, 55 among students, two among staff. Classes resumed 28 days after suspension following two weeks without cases. Just 6.3% of full-time staff and 87.4% of outsourced staff tested while 65% of students at the main campus and 74% at the extension campus were tested. Final year students had significantly higher positivity and lower testing coverage compared to freshmen. All viruses sequenced were beta variant and at least four separate virus introductions onto campus were observed. These findings are useful for development of campus outbreak responses and indicate the need to emphasize staff, males and senior students in testing. Article Summary LineSuccessful management of a campus outbreak using test trace and isolate approach with resumption within a month following suspension of all in-person classes. Trends in voluntary testing by gender, age and year of study that can help in formation of future management approaches.

2.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-21254091

ABSTRACT

Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is used worldwide to test and trace the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). "Extraction-less" or "direct" real time-reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is an open-access qualitative method for SARS-CoV-2 detection from nasopharyngeal or oral pharyngeal samples with the potential to generate actionable data more quickly, at a lower cost, and with fewer experimental resources than full RT-qPCR. This study engaged 10 global testing sites, including laboratories currently experiencing testing limitations due to reagent or equipment shortages, in an international interlaboratory ring trial. Participating laboratories were provided a common protocol, common reagents, aliquots of identical pooled clinical samples, and purified nucleic acids and used their existing in-house equipment. We observed 100% concordance across laboratories in the correct identification of all positive and negative samples, with highly similar cycle threshold values. The test also performed well when applied to locally collected patient nasopharyngeal samples, provided the viral transport media did not contain charcoal or guanidine, both of which appeared to potently inhibit the RT-PCR reaction. Our results suggest that open-access, direct RT-PCR assays are a feasible option for more efficient COVID-19 coronavirus disease testing as demanded by the continuing pandemic.

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