In response to the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 in 2020, we conducted drive-through nasopharyngeal swab testing for COVID-19 in Sendai city, Japan, since April 2020. All tested individuals were judged in advance by public health centers for the necessity of undergoing the test with possible contact history and/or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. In this study, to identify the predictors of SARS-CoV-2 test positivity for more efficient and evidenced selection of suspected individuals, we enrolled 3,540 consecutive individuals, tested in the first 7 months of the testing program, with data regarding to the history of close contact with COVID-19 patients, including those involved in cluster outbreaks. This cohort included 284 foreign students (257 males and 27 females) from a vocational school involved in the largest cluster outbreak in the area. Close contact history was present in 952 (26.9%) of the participants. The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results showed that 164 participants (4.6%) were positive and 3,376 participants (95.4%) were negative for the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid gene (N2). In the univariate and multivariate analyses, history of close contact with COVID-19 patients, higher age, cough symptoms, and non-native ethnicity were predictors for SARS-CoV-2 test positivity. However, the significance of age and foreign nationality disappeared or declined upon excluding the foreign students from the aforementioned largest cluster outbreak. In conclusion, a history of close contact with COVID-19 patients and the presence of cough symptoms are significant predictors of SARS-CoV-2 test positivity.
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