Individuals were recruited and informed by specially trained medical staff before the consultation. Following informed consent, patients completed a questionnaire, which was created according to Swiss Federal Office of Public Health guidelines and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (CDC, 2020; FOPH, 2021a). Acute respiratory syndrome was defined as a new onset of respiratory illness symptoms (sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain) (FOPH, 2021a). Additional symptoms were fever, muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, confusion, or poor general condition. During the subsequent consultation, the answers to the questionnaire were checked by a specialist physician. Nasopharyngeal specimens were collected by a specially trained nurse. All nurses had completed a training course that was prepared according to established guidelines on swab collection (CDC, 2021). Nurses were supervised during the first few days of practice. Swabs were collected using iClean Specimen Collection Flocked Swabs (Cleanmo Technology Co., Shenzhen, China) and Liofilchem Viral Transport Medium (Italy). Sample material was stored at 4°C and processed within 6 hours (antigen test) or 12 hours (RT-PCR). Coded clinical data and laboratory test results were stored in separate databases and merged before analysis.

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