The country suddenly finds itself being held up as the model to be emulated for its high rates of testing – seen by many as the only strategy for being able to navigate a route out of lockdown measures.

German public health services are provided not by one central authority but by approximately 400 public health offices, run by municipality and rural district administrations.

Such an environment allows for a variety of laboratories – some attached to universities or hospitals, others privately run, medium-sized businesses – which act largely autonomously of central control.

“I don’t have to wait to get a call from the health minister before I can go ahead with a test,” said Matthias Orth, of the Institute of Laboratory Medicine at Stuttgart’s Marienhospital.