Rapid viral diagnosis and ambulatory management of suspected COVID-19 cases presenting at the infectious diseases referral hospital in Marseille, France, - January 31st to March 1st, 2020: A respiratory virus snapshot

Travel Med Infect Dis. Jul-Aug 2020;36:101632. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101632. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


Background: Rapid virological diagnosis is needed to limit the length of isolation for suspected COVID-19 cases.

Method: We managed the first 280 patients suspected to have COVID-19 through a rapid care circuit and virological diagnosis in our infectious disease reference hospital in Marseille, France. Rapid viral detection was performed on sputum and nasopharyngeal samples.

Results: Over our study period, no SARS-CoV-2 was detected. Results were obtained within approximately 3 h of the arrival of patient samples at the laboratory. Other viral infections were identified in 49% of the patients, with most common pathogens being influenza A and B viruses, rhinovirus, metapneumovirus and common coronaviruses, notably HKU1 and NL63.

Conclusion: Early recognition of COVID-19 is critical to isolate confirmed cases and prevent further transmission. Early rule-out of COVID-19 allows public health containment measures to be adjusted by reducing the time spent in isolation.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronaviruses; Epidemic; Influenza; SARS-CoV-2; Travel.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharynx / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Referral and Consultation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sputum / virology
  • Young Adult