Update March 4th, 2020, 7:00 p.m.
In Germany, the number of confirmed Coronavirus infections now exceeds 200. About half of them were reported in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the second infection wave started only eight days ago.
On Monday of last week, Germany did not have a single confirmed Coronavirus case. By now there are more than 260. Almost all federal states are affected. At the Virchow Clinic in Berlin, patients who might be infected formed a waiting line in front of an emergency admission established for that purpose.
Minister Spahn at Bundestag
At the Berlin Bundestag, Health Minister Jens Spahn said the epidemic had now reached Germany, but the country’s health system was well prepared for the fight against the virus. Spahn said there were restrictions in people’s lives already. It was the government’s goad to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus and to dam it as much as possible.
Minister Spahn asked the nation for prudence. “Sure, a new virus we are not experienced with is disturbing”, he conceded. Fear and worry were human reactions. “But our society has a lot of experience with all kinds of dangers”, Spahn stated. Later today, he will talk with the health ministers in Germany’s federal states.
Eight Cases in Berlin
Three days ago, Berlin had not been hit by the virus yet. Now, the number of Coronavirus patients is increasing rapidly. Eight cases in the German capital were confirmed. There are more than 200 contact persons most of whom are in quarantine in their homes by now. Two schools are closed.
With these kinds of numbers, contacts the infected patients had can still be tracked down and quarantined. Once there are hundreds or thousands of Coronavirus cases, which is an expected scenario, it will be impossible. But even now, the Berlin health authorities seem to be experiencing some issues.
‘Public Life Needs to Continue’
According to a Berliner who was quarantined because his colleague is a confirmed Coronavirus case, quick tests for ten employees of the same company were announced, but partially not conducted. The man was interviewed by the RBB.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller said the city state needed to react to this situation, also by cancelling big events. It was important not to take any additional risks. At the same time public life needed to continue. Müller stated there was no reason for panic buying. (See separate article Germany: Empty Shelves in Supermarkets Due To Coronavirus).
Anti-Terror Exercise Scrapped
An anti-terror exercise the police and fire department were supposed to be part of in Berlin on March 11th was cancelled. That way, the officers and fire fighters could do their job without interruption, the Berlin Senate Administration of the Interior said. By releasing that statement, they indirectly conceded their work load is already critically big, due to the virus.
During the exercise, the participants were supposed to simulate a big terror attack around Red City Hall. Under “realistic conditions”, the police and fire departments, as well as the disaster prevention authority, would have rehearsed an emergency. Now a real emergency of a different kind thwarted that plan.
Leipzig Book Fair Cancelled
Several large events were cancelled in the past days. The ITB tourism trade fair would be going on in Berlin right now had it not be cancelled because of the Coronavirus. The Leipzig Book Fair was scrapped too. It was going to take place from March 12th to 15th.
According to new rules for large events, the organizers need to guarantee that all contact persons of each visitor can be tracked down in case the virus hits. At events with tens of thousands of visitors, nobody can promise this requirement will be adhered to.
Virus Hits Show Biz
The virus and its implications have hit the German entertainment world as well. The ARD network just cancelled a live ‘Volksmusik’ show with their star Florian Silbereisen that would have had an audience of 5000 people on site. In many cases it is still unclear what will happen to large concerts and tours scheduled by artists from all over the world and from within Germany.
In the meantime, the virus is continuing to spread. In Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, three Coronavirus infections have been confirmed. In the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, seven new cases were reported in the counties Esslingen, Lörrach and Ostalbkreis. In North Rhine-Westphalia, at least Coronavirus patients are in intensive care. One of them is an 89-year-old woman.
Doctors Infected at Congress
At the University Clinic in Düsseldorf, the first two patients of Germany’s second Coronavirus wave are still being treated. A 47-year-old man who was in critical condition is now listed as stable. His wife’s status is improving too.
The first Coronavirus patient in Germany’s smallest province, the Saarland, is a doctor who works at the children’s ward of a university clinic. He might have caught the virus at a congress in Frankfurt, the same event a doctor from Berlin went to before he became a confirmed Coronavirus patient as well. In Lower Saxony, a man who recently took part in a bus trip to Italy tested positive.
The Only State Without Corona
Many of Germany’s virus patients caught it during trips to Italy or Iran, at the carnival in the western part of the country or at conferences in several parts of Germany. Doctors and hospital staff members seem to be over-represented in the list of cases in Germany, also because they are the first point of contact once there are suspected cases.
The only federal state that was not affected as of Wednesday morning is Saxony-Anhalt in Germany’s eastern part.
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