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Spahn: “Corona peak not yet reached”

Bundestag - Government Declaration on Coronavirus - Jens Spahn (picture-alliance / dpa / B. Von Jutrczenka)

The Federal Minister of Health warns of a corona panic in Germany. However, Jens Spahn complains that the tests for the new virus in Germany took too long. The government bans the export of breathing masks.

Actually, a rather boring survey of the federal government takes place at the beginning of the session in the Bundestag. This time everything is different, which can already be seen from the fact that even Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) came to the plenary hall – an extremely rare process at this time. The reason: Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn makes a government statement on the dangers of the coronavirus for Germany.

Previously, as usual, the experts at the Robert Koch Institute had announced the latest status in the past few days: There are 240 infected people in Germany, far fewer than in China, South Korea or Iran. The risk of an epidemic is classified as moderate, not as low as recently, but also not as high.

Transparency should curb fear

Spahn praises the many doctors and nurses who would now do extraordinary things. Above all, he relies on transparency to curb the fear of the virus: “We will continue to say every day what we know, but also what we do not know.” The minister points out that for a few days now the number of people cured after a coronavirus infection worldwide has been higher than that of the newly infected. But he does not want to speak of the all-clear: “The peak of the spread has not yet been reached.”

Germany Heinsberg | Coronavirus | Crisis team (Reuters / W. Rattay)The crisis team in Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, where most suspected cases live

Basically, there is still a lot of data missing about the new virus, for example, it is unclear whether people could be infected twice or whether an infection would already lead to immunization. So far, says Spahn, it has been possible to isolate infected people and to break the infection chains. It is now conceivable that intensive care medicine will soon concentrate on the serious cases of illness and send mild cases to quarantine at home. Spahn notes critically that it still takes too long before suspected cases are tested for the virus.

Windy shops with breathing masks

The health minister basically believes that the majority of people will react prudently to the new virus. But he also criticizes “windy business with overpriced protective masks”. In line with this, the government’s Corona crisis team decided shortly before the Bundestag session to ban the export of breathing masks, gloves, and protective suits. There are only a few exceptions, for example in the context of international aid campaigns. The Ministry of Health was also commissioned to procure new protective equipment centrally for medical practices or hospitals. 

Germany Essen | Coronavirus | Infection station university clinic (picture-alliance / dpa / M. Kusch)From now on such breathing masks from Germany may no longer be used

The fear of the new, unknown virus is deeply human, says Spahn, but that is precisely why people should find out about the virus from reputable sources: “Punish those who try to spread fear and false reports by ignoring them.” For example, the anti-Semitism officer of the state of Baden-Württemberg, Michael Blume, reported that individual entries on YouTube alleged that the virus had been produced and distributed by American Jews.

MPs remain calm

There is little evidence of corona fear in the Bundestag itself. However, many MPs no longer shake hands to greet each other. Two days ago, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) decided not to greet the Chancellor by handshake on the sidelines of an event in Berlin. Recently, dispensers with disinfectants have been installed in the Reichstag building.

Germany Integration Summit | Horst Seehofer refuses to shake Angela Merkel's hand (picture-alliance / AA / A. Hosbas)Better not handshake with Chancellor Angela Merkel: Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer

In a letter to all representatives of the Bundestag, President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) also called for increased efforts to improve hygiene. Even instructions on how to wash your hands properly are included with the letter. Schäuble also instructed the deputies to only go on absolutely necessary business trips for now.

Germans hardly ever wash their hands

In recent days politicians and experts in Germany have repeatedly recommended that citizens wash their hands as the best measure against the virus. According to a survey by the Forsa Institute, this has not yet had a broad impact in Germany. Despite the coronavirus, almost a third of Germans do not regularly wash their hands with soap and water.

Icon image wash hands (Imago Images / allover-mev)Despite the coronavirus, many Germans do not follow the hygiene instructions

However, the Germans have become a little more prudent when it comes to potentially dangerous contacts. About half of the respondents said they avoided touching door handles, handrails and switches in public for fear of the Coronavirus.

Linnemann: “Small and medium-sized businesses must not suffer from the coronavirus”

Meanwhile, Carsten Linnemann, head of the CDU and CSU association of small and medium-sized businesses and business, spoke of major concerns in the small and medium-sized businesses regarding the effects of the Corona crisis: “Many small and medium-sized companies write to me that there are problems right now, of course in the catering and hotel industry, but also in mechanical engineering, in-plant construction, which is waiting for parts that you are not getting now, from China, but also from other regions. ” The government must provide more bridging loans for such companies, said Linnemann.

CDU Carsten Linneman (picture-alliance / dpa / J. Woitas)Carsten Linnemann: “Help SMEs now!”

“If you have top-healthy medium-sized companies, it cannot be that the virus goes into bankruptcy,” said Linnemann. The government’s crisis team then announced a number of decisions affecting German citizens facing the epidemic abroad. Germans who go into quarantine in other European countries on instructions from local authorities should also finish them there, according to the crisis team. And the Federal Foreign Office will publish a notice that there is an increased risk of quarantine on cruise ships.

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