Picturesque Eisenach at the foot of the Wartburg is an almost exotic place in Germany, there is currently not a single new corona infection. Meanwhile, 34 rural cities and provinces are breaking the critical upper limit of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.
The new wave of the pandemic is so difficult to combat because it varies so regionally and the outbreak is diffuse. With new lockdowns to be avoided and schools and daycares to remain open, adjustments are happening hectically, but so far no one has a panacea.
The major cities of Cologne, Essen and Stuttgart are developing into hotspots, just like Bremen, Berlin and Frankfurt. Nightly closing times now apply almost everywhere from 11 pm at the latest. Frankfurt mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD) emphasizes: “We can learn from others.” First mayor Peter Tschentscher, for example, achieved success in Hamburg with a ban on the sale of alcohol.
The same was reported from Munich – this was the first megacity to cross the 50 threshold. But the measures made it possible to lower the figures again. Now they climb here again.
In cities like Berlin, the rules were not strictly monitored or followed for weeks, from correctly entering contact information to dealing with parties and large weddings in enclosed spaces. The current situation is therefore the result of a lack of discipline on the part of the citizens and a lack of enforcement of rules by the government.
The false myths circulating in social networks about the alleged harmlessness of the virus were reinforced in the summer by the fact that it was mainly young people who were infected, most of whom did not have serious illnesses.
However, the development in intensive care cases, which is still at a low level but clearly increasing, has so far confirmed to the scientists that the virus causes the number of infections in risk groups to increase again with a delay.
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“There are a lot of false lights in public right now,” said Christian Drosten, head of the Institute of Virology at Charité, a few days ago. According to his calculations, the mortality rate with the coronavirus so far determined is 20 times higher than with the flu, so far an estimated one percent of those infected have died.
The SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach expects an increasing number of the serious courses. If there is a development of a maximum of 20,000 new infections per day, this means, with a delay, 200 deaths per day. “At least if many elderly people are infected,” says Lauterbach.
Difficult contact follow-up
In the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, ruled by the Greens, Left and the SPD, a resubmission decision could be made: Can you really reject the help provided by the Bundeswehr? The focus is mainly on helping people to look for contacts in the event of infections in order to break through the infection chains.
Stuttgart has now also asked the Bundeswehr for help. The limit of 50 was set by the federal and state governments because it is still feasible to provide tracking by then. The governor of Berlin, Michael Müller, emphasizes that there are 200 vacancies with the health authorities in Berlin alone. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has offered that the federal government is now looking to its authorities for people who could be deployed for operations on the Corona front at short notice.
Laboratories are reaching their limits in many places
Next week, the limit of 5,000 new infections per day must be exceeded. Laboratory capacities are also reaching their limits in many places, with 1.1 million tests per week. “We could never treat 20,000 cases a day,” says Lauterbach. “We should quarantine so many people that it could act as a second lockdown.”
Morning and afternoon surgery is recommended for schools, with plenty of time to ventilate. The more serious cases there are, the more the focus will be on intensive care beds, of which 9,328 are currently free. Charité health care board member Ulrich Frei is more concerned about the shortage of intensive care staff, especially as it could be exacerbated by infections and quarantine regulations.
Because the infection process develops very differently across the country, the measures differ. The ban on accommodation for travelers from risk areas, which applies in many places, is also being scrutinized by doctors. On the one hand, thanks to the protection concepts, hardly any infections have been reported from hotels to date.
On the other hand, in many places there is hardly any capacity to participate in the self-pay negative corona tests that are exempt from the ban. Because of the new curfew, innkeepers, not just in Berlin, fear that many parties could take place indoors.
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These private parties could also grow into the germ cells of the infection. In addition, experts doubt that the planned extension of the mask requirement in some cities to pedestrian zones and public spaces will bring anything. Saxony-Anhalt is already rejecting a nationwide higher fine for those who don’t like masks – CSU boss Markus Söder is for 250 euros.
“We must not just talk about sanctions, we must pay more attention to fighting the root causes of the hotspots,” emphasized the government spokesman.