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Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you’re in Germany

Germany's healthcare system is one of the best in the world and the country is well-situated to combat the spread of coronavirus. Nevertheless, infections have been spreading. Here's how you can protect yourself.

Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you're in Germany
A nurse at Essen University Hospital finishes putting on protective clothing in the infection ward. Photo: DPA

The coronavirus strain, now known worldwide after its genesis and spread from Wuhan, China, has continued to spread across the globe.

Countries such as Iran and Italy have seen a growing number of cases in a short amount of time, and are now reporting more new cases than China. Italy has already documented over 600 cases and instituted travel restrictions.  

Cases in Germany are on the rise as well. The district of Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia – Germany's most populous state – quarantined 1,000 individuals Friday after an infected couple participated in carnival celebrations in mid-February. Schools and kindergartens were also shut in the district until Monday.

READ ALSO: Germany quarantines 1,000 as coronavirus cases push past 50

In Hamburg, parents and children who were in contact with an infected employee at a university clinic have also been ordered to stay home for 14 days.

Symptoms

The virus comes with mild flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and sore throat, with some also reporting diarrhea. The illness usually not a threat to individuals with strong immune systems.

The German government calculates the death toll worldwide at around two percent, although this number may be high. Only patients treated in hospitals are accounted for, leaving mild cases undocumented and likely skewing results. 

Elderly individuals, pregnant women and immunocompromised people are at a greater risk of serious complications related to the Coronavirus. 

Provided to The Local via Statista

So what can Germans do to stay healthy and safe? 

The best ways to protect yourself are to practice the same habits you would during regular flu season:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing or before eating.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Wear a mask if you suspect you are ill, or if you are assisting someone else who is ill.
  • Clean off surfaces with alcohol- or chlorine-based disinfectants.

The Robert Koch Institute, a German federal health and research agency, also advises people to not take antibiotics or antivirals unless prescribed by a doctor. 

The Institute maintains that the risks of being infected in Germany are still generally low to moderate.

A few myths: wearing a mask, unless you already feel ill or are working with those who are, is not considered necessary in Germany.

Additionally, consumers should not be worried about being infected through imported goods. The German government considers this scenario highly unlikely at the moment. And finally, pets are at no risk of being infected or infecting you. 

Vocabulary

(das) Fieber – fever

(die) Kopfschmerzen – headache

(die) Schmerzen – aches

(der) Husten – cough

(die) Atembeschwerden – breathing difficulties

(eine) Erkältung – a cold

(die) Grippe – the flu

(das) Coronavirus – coronavirus

(der) Rettungsdienst – ambulance service 

Member comments

  1. Its already a pandemic. The WHO used to be an excellent organisation unfortunately it hasnt been one for years. There are far better reports to look at.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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