By incorporating weekly facility-wide testing for COVID-19 in a 185-resident nursing home, 38 pre-symptomatic residents were identified up to eight days before symptoms occurred.

That’s according to a study conducted in a Dutch nursing home. Researchers published their findings online ahead of print in Age and Ageing.

“Weekly testing was an effective strategy for early identification of SARS-CoV-2 cases, resulting in fast mitigation of the outbreak,” the trial authors wrote. 

The observational study looked at two consecutive testing strategies of 185 residents and 244 staff members at a single nursing home: testing of symptomatic individuals only, or weekly, facility-wide testing of individuals regardless of symptoms.

During the period when only individuals with symptoms were tested, three of 39 residents were pre-symptomatic, according to the study, compared with 38 of 74 residents during the period of weekly facility-wide testing. 

Although a little more than 91% of staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 were symptomatic, the study found that subjective symptoms, such as loss of smell and taste, sore throat, headache or muscle aches, rarely were reported in residents.