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Germany Prepares for Coronavirus Cases

In Germany, not one Coronavirus patient has been registered so far. Politicians insist the country is ready for cases of the lung disease. What they fear most is not the virus, but panic.

On Sunday, a sick lady who had flown in from China was treated as a suspected Coronavirus case in Berlin. According to German-language media, she was suffering from suspicious symptoms. The lady was isolated at the Red Cross Hospital in the German capital. But then, this case turned out to be a false alarm. All the lady had was a bad cold.

Coordination Office Established

The only Coronavirus patients in Europe were treated in France on Sunday, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The organization is in the process of establishing a coordination office at which experts will decide how to deal with Coronavirus patients, if and when they arrive in Germany. Experts believe it will probably happen soon.

The Health Ministry in Berlin does not really fear the virus, because Germany is generally prepared for crises of this kind. They are even being rehearsed. Incoming flights with suspected Coronavirus cases aboard will be diverted to one of six airports with medical capacities. Those are Frankfurt Airport, where most flights from Asia land anyway, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Tegel Airport in Berlin and Schönefeld Airport in Brandenburg.

There, medical personnel would care for the person. The patient would be taken to an isolation ward of a hospital. All major clinics in Germany have those. Their staffers are already being briefed and prepared for any eventualities. Because the Coronavirus is actually less dangerous than the flu, according to the German Health Ministry, the establishment of special isolation wards is not planned. This means any Coronavirus patients and suspected cases will be treated in regular isolation wards already available.

‘Import to be Expected’

German experts believe there most likely will be Coronavirus cases in their country. “The import of individual cases is to be expected”, the Robert Koch Institute said in a statement, while the Health Ministry in Berlin is in contact with all relevant people within Germany and abroad 24 hours a day. What Berlin fears far more than the virus itself is the panic it might cause.

Along with any Coronavirus patient, all contact persons the individual was in contact with would have to be checked as well. This would apply to colleagues, family members, and flight passengers who were sitting next to the patient, two rows behind or in front of the infected person.

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin has sent out travel warnings. Those say any unnecessary trips to the regions affected by the virus in China, including Wuhan, should be postponed. There are no direct flights between Wuhan and Germany. In the meantime, the Robert Koch Institute issued orientation guides for doctors.

Signs in Mandarin

At Germany’s large airports, including Frankfurt and both airports in and around Berlin, signs in German, English and Mandarin were set up. They say anyone with certain symptoms, including coughing and high temperature, should contact airport officials. German health experts do not believe in thermal scanners as much as other countries do. Passengers from China will be looked at by trained personnel at the main airports.

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