Seasonal influenza epidemics cause substantial morbidity and lead to excess hospitalisations and mortality, especially in the elderly.1 A sudden increase in the number of patients requiring hospital care for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), especially pneumonia as complication of influenza virus infection, may pose a significant burden for hospitals in managing bed and staff capacity.2 Whether a SARI patient is tested for influenza virus infection is the decision of the individual attending physician in most hospitals and mainly relies on laboratory-based PCR testing with a turnaround time of 24-48 hours.

More frequent testing and timely diagnosis of influenza may better guide isolations and improve patient flow through the hospital and thereby contribute to a more efficient management of patients.3, 4 In influenza season 2017-2018, the Jeroen Bosch Hospital (JBH) in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, implemented a PCR-based point-of-care test (POCT) for influenza virus type A and type B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) for all patients presenting with SARI at the Emergency Department (ED).5 Furthermore, a temporary ward dedicated specifically to care of influenza-positive patients was established. The POCT (Cobas Liat Assay) has high sensitivity and specificity for influenza virus types A and B, and RSV, and can be performed by non-laboratory personnel at the ED.

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