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Germany: Coronavirus ‘No Reason for Alarmism’

According to the Health Ministry in Berlin, there is “no reason for unease or alarmism” related to the coronavirus in Germany. But the Foreign Ministry keeps on releasing new travel warnings for China.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin sends out updated travel warnings about countries all over the word all the time. But they usually do not publish two of them for one and the same country within seven hours. That is what happened on Wednesday.

Mutated Travel Warning

The first warning about China sent out shortly after 5:00 p.m. included some general information about the coronavirus and a link to the World Health Organization’s website. A few hours later, just before midnight, the travel warning had mutated. By then it contained behavioral guidelines.

It says the coronavirus cases had increased and there had been cases of death. It looked like the illness could be passed on from human to human. German travelers are being asked to register themselves on a precautionary crisis list entitled ‘Electronic Registration of Germans Abroad’ and to “postpone unnecessary trips to Wuhan”, which is where the coronavirus originates from.

Frankfurt Airport is prepared for coronavirus cases. Photo: Fraport AG

Within Germany, the authorities are expecting flight passengers infected with the coronavirus to arrive at major airports at some point. At the largest airport in Germany, Frankfurt Airport, trained employees are checking passengers from China by looking at them. Should there be travelers who look ill, they will be isolated at hospitals and checked. Experts in Germany do not seem to believe machines that check people’s body temperature are reliable, while they are being used at some Asian airports.

Danger Assessed Constantly

The Airport Union says all German airports were prepared. According to a statement, the danger posed to this country is being assessed constantly. In case the situation becomes more critical in Germany, where not a single coronavirus case has been registered so far, an emergency plan will kick in. The ‘medical capacities’ needed in that case were ready, the authorities say.

Six German airports would be in the center of the attention, if the situation worsened, namely the ones in Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Tegel Airport in Berlin and Schönefeld Airport in Brandenburg. In case a passenger on a flight to any other airport seems to be sick, the aircraft will be rerouted to one of those airports, because of the medical capacities there.

For the two airports in and around Berlin, Tegel and Schönefeld, a spokesman told the RBB, which is part of the ARD TV and radio network, they were “prepared for the epidemic problem”. Medical staff on site would treat and separate patients immediately, should this become necessary. Recently, cases of this kind had been rehearsed during a large exercise.

‘Orientation Guide’ for Doctors

Leading German virologists who were quoted in German-language media said they did expect people infected with the coronavirus to reach Europe, including Germany, soon. But those would be single cases that could easily be dealt with. The coronavirus was mainly dangerous to people with pre-existing conditions, one expert stressed.

Germany’s prestigious Robert Koch Institute released an ‘orientation guide’ for doctors who are confronted with suspected coronavirus cases. The document tells them the order of steps they need to take. For confirmed coronavirus cases, a therapy and the isolation of the patient is being dictated.

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