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Kieler Woche 2020 organisation admired for guarding against COVID-19

by Hermann Hell 9 Sep 17:10 UTC 5-13 September 2020
Face masks are mandatory on the whole event area. For Sven Christensen (right) and Fabian Bach (left) the organisation of Kiel Week 2020 was a significant challenge. ©

"Do it like in Kiel!" This statement of the former president of the World Sailing Association Paul Henderson has become a famous statement in the state capital and has drawn the eyes of the whole sailing world to the organizational abilities of the people of Kiel.

In 2020, this insight, which has lasted for decades, will take on new significance. Organizers of sailing events worldwide, but also politicians, ticketing companies, fair organizers as well as medical technology service providers are closely observing how the Corona pandemic is handled during Kieler Woche.

"This is certainly the most unusual challenge I have experienced in my 19 years at Point of Sailing," admits Sven Christensen, managing director of the marketing agency of Kiel Week. And there were already many tasks that POS had set itself or with which the agency had to deal with. "But in the other cases we were able to rely on experience, had to plan differently or more extensive when setting up tents or guiding participants flows," says Christensen. "But now we could build on nothing."

With the decision in mid-March to postpone Kieler Woche, but to take the risk of hosting it, work began on the existing hygiene concept - and it was intensive. Sven Christensen: "There was not a single day on which we did not work on it, at least subliminally. Ultimately, every question revolved around this topic, whether it was the layout of the areas, dealing with sponsors and partners, commissioning service providers or, more specifically, setting up the hygiene concept. And there had to be intensive communication - both internally and externally. Press, politics, helpers, volunteers and race organizers: All of them had their own, in the past clearly defined image of Kiel Week, which now had to be redrawn.

The result is a strikingly different picture at the Kiel-Schilksee Olympic Center: hardly any tent and pagoda roofs, many open spaces where the dinghies have plenty of room, but instead plenty of fences, information boards and posters. 2.1 kilometers of construction fences have been set up on the area until the start of the sailing week. On Monday several meters of fences were added. "We have defined sectors to which a maximum of 250 heads are assigned. Walkways were created," explains Christensen. "But with the start of the week it became clear that the system had to be handled dynamically. So we restructured a bit."

The Olympic Center is now divided into eight different areas. The sailing classes will be separated, but also the organizers should meet as little as possible. Se-curity, check-in and race management will form separate cohorts. Chains of con-tacts will be prevented by the Kiel organizers. Therefore the coaches have no access to the areas of the sailing classes. Since they often look after different athletes, the coaches should not be able to spread possible infections further. " If there is a case of infection, the measures should make it possible for us to re-move one component without the entire structure collapsing," says Christensen.

If the division into cohorts and the distribution of mouth-nose-masks (500 were produced in the Kiel Week design) as well as the use of a visitor warning light in the check-in boat tent is intended to prevent the occurrence of chains of infection from the outset, the use of the Corona Warning Bracelet with the corresponding app serves to detect possible encounters and intervene in the chains if necessary. 850 wristbands are issued throughout the week. The bracelet is compatible with the Corona-Warnapp on the smartphone, but works even more accurately because the wristband is usually not put out of hand.

The heart of the actual testing for possible infections is located at the entrance to the regatta house. At the entrances to the organization area everyone has to pass a temperature test. If this is inconspicuous, access is granted. If the measuring device detects an infection, the next steps of the screening process begin.

First of all, a questionnaire clarifies the state of health, risk contacts, etc. Then the patient is taken to the test container with a new fever measurement. A special, voluntary rapid test is intended to provide further clarification by means of a new type of demonstration procedure of infrared spectral analysis. If there are no abnormalities, the path to sports is free again. Otherwise, samples are taken for a PCR test and sent to the laboratory. Overnight there is then a result, which is received by the hygiene officer of the Kiel YC, Dr. Martin Lutz. So far, the handful of PCR tests have been negative. Also all of the approximately 300 spectral analyses did not yield a positive result.

The entire system has been set up by an internal working group at Point of Sailing with support from the medical and laboratory sectors. Now it is being intensively monitored by external parties. "Of course we also want people to see what we are doing," says Sven Christensen, but he is nevertheless surprised about how many inquiries come in: "Almost every day someone is there to take a look at the system on site. It is an incredible response."

The Kiel Week organizers are basically satisfied with the acceptance among the participants, even if in individual cases there were corona skeptics among sailors and supervisors. At the beginning there were also discussions with some guests in the harbour who did not want to be led off their usual walking paths. And, of course, constant control and admonition is necessary to ensure that the masks are worn throughout the entire area. Christensen: "The general regulation are fixed and we enforce them. In the end, however, it is up to each and everyone of us to assume our responsibility to society as a whole".

Premiere in Kiel-Schilksee: Corona quick test

In Schilksee, the scientists are using a new method to detect a disease with Covid-19 within a few seconds. "We want to offer a test for the general population that provides a result quickly and is not as complicated as a PCR test," says Professor Maneesh Singh from England. Together with his colleague, he takes swabs every day, from the mouth - not from the throat, and evaluates them using a spectral analysis. They clamp the saliva sample into a device and X-ray it. A high-purity diamond splits the light into a spectrum in which each chemical element leaves behind certain traces. The resulting curve is then examined by an algorithm on the computer.

"We have included samples from several thousand test persons in the algorithm, including a great number of people with an infection," says Maneesh Singh. The rate at which a positive sample can be detected in this way is 93 percent, Singh says. In his imagination, the rapid test is intended to create a kind of funnel: Many people are tested in a very short time and a PCR test is carried out if anything abnormal occurs. This should also reduce the burden on the laboratories. Prof. Dr. Dr. Patrick Warnke, a physician from Flensburg, is also involved in the development of the quick test. He actually wanted to use the spectrum analysis to detect other diseases.

The method has not yet been approved, so the procedure in Schilksee is a demonstration on a voluntary basis, but in several countries, including Germany, it will soon be released. "So far we have had four participants who have attracted attention due to an increased temperature. Our test was negative, but to be on the safe side we ordered a PCR test. The result was reported the next morning: also negative.

Until Monday, Singh and his colleague tested 300 people in Schilksee, by the end of next Sunday they would have liked to take 500 to 1,000 samples. This should be possible - hopefully all negative.

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