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EU expects corona numbers to rise rapidly

Corona virus in Germany Man with a face mask (Imago Images / photothek / X. Heinl)

EU health ministers want to respond appropriately to the epidemic. Protective masks are only needed by doctors and nurses. Do not “over-dramatize”, says Health Minister Jens Spahn. From Brussels Bernd Riegert.

What does Codogno in Lombardy and Gangelt in North Rhine-Westphalia have in common? Both villages are epicenters of regional outbreaks of corona infections. One should not travel to both regions if it is not absolutely necessary, the German health minister Jens Spahn warned today after a crisis meeting of the EU health ministers in Brussels. However, like all other ministers, Spahn spoke out against state travel restrictions in the EU. “Unnecessary trips should be avoided, the free movement remains,” said Spahn. The borders remained open in the EU. EU ministers also believe that entry bans for third countries are of little use. “The virus is there. It’s in Europe,” said the Minister of Health.

Berlin Coronavirus in Germany PK Spahn (picture-alliance / dpa / C. Gatteau)Spahn: Take Corona seriously, but don’t “over-dramatize”. (Archive picture)

A new phase of the epidemic

Quarantine is no longer important for immigrants, but rather reducing infections and slowing the spread of corona. “The infections are now spreading within the member states. The situation has changed. The task now is to limit the consequences of the epidemic,” said Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros, who led the crisis meeting in Brussels. The EU Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, said there are now over 4,000 cases in 24 of the 27 member states in the EU. “We will see a rapid increase in the number of cases over the next few weeks,” Kyriakides predicted. The situation in the individual member states is very different. Italy has almost 2/3 of the cases in Europe.

Corona virus closed in Italy (Reuters / R. Casilli)Italian universities closed: Empty lecture hall at the Sapienza University in Rome

Appropriate measures for each country different

Economic life in Italy is already severely affected, universities and schools were closed nationwide until mid-March. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn does not consider such draconian measures appropriate in Germany. In Germany, there are about 500 people infected with Corona, the majority in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. If a student was skiing in Northern Italy and is now returning, he should say on his own that I am not going to the university for 14 days. At least Health Minister Spahn is counting on this. “You don’t have to close the whole university right away,” says Spahn in Brussels, “but you can tell the citizens (…) who was in risky areas should stay at home, sometimes not go to the cinema or sometimes social Participate in life. ” The minister also rejected the nationwide closure of schools. Bundesliga games continue to take place in Germany, but numerous trade fairs have already been canceled. In Italy, football games are held without an audience. Switzerland had banned all meetings with more than 1,000 people. The European Parliament canceled its meeting in Strasbourg.

02.02.2020, Berlin, Germany - symbolic photo on the subject of corona virus.  (Imago / R. Zensen)Face masks are ineffective in healthy people, say Robert Koch Institute and the EU. Nevertheless, they are sold out almost everywhere.

No masks for healthy individuals

The EU health ministers decided to buy respiratory masks and medicines together from next week and distribute them to their countries. There are supply shortages for masks and protective clothing, which are mainly manufactured in China. The EU Commission should examine a European export ban for respiratory masks, demanded Jens Spahn. Individual states have already imposed this. The EU called on healthy private individuals not to put on masks and to use disinfectants because of the risk of the corona. They should be reserved for medical staff and the sick themselves because they are ineffective as a preventive measure anyway.

Belgium Corona infection risk too high in the EU (picture-alliance / AP Photo / V. Mayo)Situation center of the EU in Brussels: The number of infections will increase

Fear of corona more harmful than the virus itself?

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides predicted that the Corona wave will affect life in the EU in the tourism, business, transportation and migration sectors even more. At the same time, the Federal Minister of Health Spahn warned against panic. 80 percent of all diseases take a mild course, as confirmed by the European epidemic prevention center. “The risk from the virus is great, but what the fear of the virus creates in society, this risk can be even greater,” said Jens Spahn.

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