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Article

Investigation of a Limited but Explosive COVID-19 Outbreak in a German Secondary School

1
Infection Protection, Local Health Authority Hamburg-Nord, 20249 Hamburg, Germany
2
Methodology and Research Infrastructure, Genome Sequencing and Genomic Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany
3
Methodology and Research Infrastructure, Bioinformatics, Robert Koch Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany
4
Systems Medicine of Infectious Disease, Robert Koch Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany
5
Herrmann Rietschel-Institute, Technical University of Berlin, 10587 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Caijun Sun
Viruses 2022, 14(1), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010087
Received: 24 November 2021 / Revised: 24 December 2021 / Accepted: 27 December 2021 / Published: 4 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Section SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19)
The role of schools as a source of infection and driver in the coronavirus-pandemic has been controversial and is still not completely clarified. To prevent harm and disadvantages for children and adolescents, but also adults, detailed data on school outbreaks is needed, especially when talking about open schools employing evidence-based safety concepts. Here, we investigated the first significant COVID-19 school outbreak in Hamburg, Germany, after the re-opening of schools in 2020. Using clinical, laboratory, and contact data and spatial measures for epidemiological and environmental studies combined with whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis, we examined the causes and the course of the secondary school outbreak. The potential index case was identified by epidemiological tracking and the lessons in classrooms with presumably high virus spreading rates and further infection chains in the setting. Sequence analysis of samples detected one sample of a different virus lineage and 25 virus genomes with almost identical sequences, of which 21 showed 100% similarity. Most infections occurred in connection with two lesson units of the primary case. Likely, 31 students (12–14 years old), two staff members, and three family members were infected in the school or the typical household. Sequence analysis revealed an outbreak cluster with a single source that was epidemiologically identified as a member of the educational staff. In lesson units, two superspreading events of varying degrees with airborne transmission took place. These were influenced by several parameters including the exposure times, the use of respiratory masks while speaking and spatial or structural conditions at that time. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; school outbreak; superspreading event; aerosols; non-pharmaceutical interventions SARS-CoV-2; school outbreak; superspreading event; aerosols; non-pharmaceutical interventions
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MDPI and ACS Style

Baumgarte, S.; Hartkopf, F.; Hölzer, M.; von Kleist, M.; Neitz, S.; Kriegel, M.; Bollongino, K. Investigation of a Limited but Explosive COVID-19 Outbreak in a German Secondary School. Viruses 2022, 14, 87. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010087

AMA Style

Baumgarte S, Hartkopf F, Hölzer M, von Kleist M, Neitz S, Kriegel M, Bollongino K. Investigation of a Limited but Explosive COVID-19 Outbreak in a German Secondary School. Viruses. 2022; 14(1):87. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010087

Chicago/Turabian Style

Baumgarte, Sigrid, Felix Hartkopf, Martin Hölzer, Max von Kleist, Sabine Neitz, Martin Kriegel, and Kirsten Bollongino. 2022. "Investigation of a Limited but Explosive COVID-19 Outbreak in a German Secondary School" Viruses 14, no. 1: 87. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14010087

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