In Hamburg, it was reported that an employee of the children’s medical department at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) had become infected with the virus, according to the clinic and health authorities.
All children and parents who had close contact with the employee are now going into quarantine for 14 days. Other employees are also going into domestic isolation.
In total, the number of confirmed infections in Germany increased more than threefold within one day to over 30, and in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, an estimated 1000 people are said to be in quarantine.
Virologist Christian Drosten assumes that the number of cases in Germany will continue to rise sharply. The chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, does not expect a vaccine until 2021 at the earliest – but warned against panic.
“We must stop panicking. The virus can cause serious illness in some people,” he told the Passauer Neue Presse on Friday. “However, in over 80 percent of cases it only leads to cold-like symptoms. But this is not the end of the world.”
In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, 14 new cases were reported on Thursday after a first case was confirmed on Tuesday evening. The 47-year-old man, who had a pre-existing medical condition, remains in serious condition.
In addition, four more infections were reported in the state of Baden-Württemberg and one new case each in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Bavaria.
‘Fond of traveling’
Sixteen initial infections in Germany were reported several weeks ago, with the majority of infections in Bavaria. All of these people are now considered virus-free.
“We will see in the next few days that new cases and small groups of cases will spring up like mushrooms,” said virologist Christian Drosten on Thursday evening on German broadcaster ZDF.
He said that Germany would be one of the countries with the highest case numbers in Europe, “because our population is very fond of traveling”.
The German government’s crisis committee will also discuss on Friday how to deal with large events such as trade fairs.
This includes the effects on the International Tourism Exchange (ITB), which is scheduled to begin in Berlin on March 4th.
Criteria could also be developed for other events, according to which local authorities could then decide on possible restrictions.