Coronavirus: how it lives in quarantine in Bonn

Germany symbol image protective mask for corona virus (picture-alliance / press photo agency ULMER / M. Ulmer)

The first case of COVID-19 in Bonn occurred in a primary school. The students were sent home. DW editor Mikhail Bushuev also works in the home office after a short vacation. An experience report.

You could say that I am under “light” quarantine. After a short vacation with my family in northern Italy, my employer asked if possible not to come to the office in cases like mine. The background is the reports of the Corona eruption.

Before I returned to Bonn, I asked the Federal Ministry of Health whether we should limit our contacts in any way or whether we should do tests. The agency asked us if we had any signs of illness or had at least 15 minutes of contact with people who would have symptoms typical of the coronavirus. Since this was not the case, we were advised to “continue life as usual”.

Coronavirus in a school in Bonn

Russian radio editorial team (DW / A. Galkina)Home office for DW employee Mikhail Bushuev

So my daughter goes to school. Not without envy, she says that in a neighboring primary school there are unscheduled vacations for two weeks. The Clemens August Elementary School is the first facility in Bonn to be affected by the coronavirus. The parents of the pupils found out about this on Saturday from the news on the Internet, but they were also informed by the local fire department almost at the same time.

“We were told that they would come to our house and do a coronavirus test,” said Silke M., whose daughter Grete is in second grade, told DW. When the danger no longer became media, but real, they weren’t afraid, according to Silke. The parents of the students immediately set up a WhatsApp group.

It quickly turned out that a 22-year-old student who looks after schoolchildren in the afternoon is infected with the virus. It comes from Heinsberg, a corona hotspot in Germany, 90 kilometers from Bonn. The young man had celebrated the carnival there. Then he returned to Bonn and went to work. The next day he felt sick and drove to the hospital. The doctors refused to give him a free corona test, on the grounds that he did not belong to any direct risk group. The student did not want to pay 130 euros and went home. The next day, he changed his mind, went to the hospital and had the test done at his own expense. The suspicion of the corona was confirmed.

Students can breathe easy

It was immediately decided to close the school and first test the children who were in direct contact with the student and then everyone else. The test looked a little strange, said Silke. Two volunteers would have made it. They would only have put on their protective suits in the apartment. “So that there is no panic in the neighborhood,” they said. The whole action lasted less than five minutes: a smear was taken from the child’s throat – at the expense of the health insurance company.

Some parents of schoolchildren wonder on WhatsApp why they didn’t smear themselves. Wolfgang Holzgreve, director of the University Clinics in Bonn, said that other family members only had to be tested if there were symptoms. A total of 20 teams took swabs from 219 people – students, teachers, family members and acquaintances of the caregiver infected with the virus. But the school can breathe a sigh of relief: the virus was not found in anyone.

Germany Coronavirus - (picture-alliance / dpa / V. Lannert)There are currently no classes at the Clemens August School Bonn

Coronavirus and quarantine

Nevertheless, the school in central Bonn is closed for two weeks. A strict quarantine was only ordered for some students. For example, according to her mother, eight-year-old Grete, who does not take part in afternoon childcare, is exempt from school, but apart from that, she has no further requirements regarding contacts or freedom of movement.

According to unofficial information, all students and parents were divided into several groups. The first group includes those who had direct contact with the infected caregiver at school on the last working day. The second group includes everyone who was in the afternoon care that day, and the third group those who attended the afternoon care but were absent that day. The fourth group includes all other contacts. The city of Bonn told DW that the agency “is not aware of any division,” but confirmed that 176 out of 219 people would have to stay at home in the event that they did develop symptoms later.

Prepare for the virus, but don’t panic

When we, like many other concerned returnees from Italy, called the hotline of the German Ministry of Health from Italy, we were informed that our data would be noted and that the authority would contact us if necessary. 

In some supermarkets, some shelves are now empty, but there can be no panic shopping. Nevertheless, the authorities are preparing for new cases. On the website of the city of Bonn, there are notes and information on measures that the city takes and which everyone can take personally. However, it is currently not planned to cancel large public events. The school next to that of my daughter, however, postponed a larger event until autumn.

According to the doctors, the primary school supervisor infected with the coronavirus is doing well. Bonn’s virologist Hendrick Streeck meanwhile said that the student had agreed to be available to him and his colleagues for further research on the virus.

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