Epidemiological analysis of 3,219 COVID-19 outbreaks in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Epidemiol Infect. 2021 Apr 23:149:e101. doi: 10.1017/S0950268821000911.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has emerged as an unprecedented global crisis challenging health systems. This paper aims to assess and characterise SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to identify groups at greatest risk, to establish early measures to curb transmission. We analysed all mandatory notified (i.e. laboratory-confirmed) coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreaks with more than two cases in Baden-Wuerttemberg from calendar weeks 18-49 (from 27 April to 6 December 2020). We used the following classification for settings: asylum and refugee accommodation, care homes, care facilities, day care child centres, hobby-related, hospitality, hospitals, households, other, residence halls, schools, supported housing, training schools, transportation, treatment facilities and workplace (occupational). We used R program version 3.6.3 for analysis. In our analysis, 3219 outbreaks with 22 238 individuals were included. About 48% were in household and hobby-related settings. Care homes accounted for 9.5% of outbreaks and 21.6% of cases. The median age across all settings was 43 (interquartile range (IQR) 24-63). The median age of cases in care homes was 81 (IQR 56-88). Of all reported cases in care homes, 72.1% were women. Over 30% (466/1511) of hospitalisations were among cases in care homes compared to 17.7% (268/1511) in households. Overall, 70% (500/715) of all deceased persons in outbreaks in the study period were in care homes compared to 4.2% in household settings (30/715). We observed an exponential increase in the number of notified outbreaks starting around the 41st week with N = 291 outbreaks reported in week 49. The median number of cases in outbreaks in care homes and care facilities after the 40th week was 14 (IQR 5-29) and 11 (IQR 5-20), respectively, compared to 3 (IQR 3-5) in households. We observed an increase in hospitalisations, and mortality associated with COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes after the 40th week. We found the care home demographic to be at greatest risk after the 40th week, based on the exponential increase in outbreaks, the number of cases, hospitalisations and mortality trends. Our analysis highlights the necessity of targeted, setting-specific approaches to control transmission in this vulnerable population. Regular screening of staff members and visitors' using rapid antigen point-of-care-tests could be a game-changer in curbing transmission in this setting.

Keywords: Baden-Wurttemberg; COVID-19; Outbreaks; SARS-CoV-2; Setting; Surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization / trends
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sex Distribution
  • Young Adult