Each coronavirus-hit person 'infecting fewer than one' in Germany

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Each coronavirus-hit person 'infecting fewer than one' in Germany
An "Isolation station" in Künzelsau, Baden-Württemberg for people who are unable to be in quarantine at home. Photo: DPA

Each coronavirus-infected person in Germany is infecting fewer than one other person, closely watched data showed, as the country looks to ease curbs to halt contagion from Monday.


According to figures published by disease control agency Robert Koch Institute late Thursday, the person-to-person infection rate has dropped to 0.7.

The infection rate is a key indicator for politicians as they calibrate Germany's gradual steps out of the lockdown that has seen schools and most businesses closed to slow the virus' spread.

From Monday, shops up to 800 square metres will be allowed to reopen if they uphold hygiene rules, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Germany to begin easing coronavirus curbs in coming weeks

And schools are set to begin reopening from May 4th, with priority given to pupils soon taking exams.

Meanwhile rules will remain in force preventing groups of more than two people from gathering in public, other than family groups who live together, while large public events remain banned until August 31th.

READ ALSO: German bans major events until the end of August: what you need to know

"The curve (of infections) has got flatter, but it still has to be in a shape that doesn't overburden our health system," Merkel said Wednesday as she announced the eased restrictions.

With an infection rate of around 1.0 then, she and state premiers judged the time right to begin inching out of lockdown.

But "even if we assume that one person infects 1.1 others, we would reach the limits of what our health system and intensive care beds can manage in October," Merkel warned.

"If we assume a rate of 1.2... we would reach the health system's limit in July. And with a rate of 1.3 -- it doesn't sound like much -- we would get there in June already," she added.

"You can see how little margin for error we have" when tweaking the step-by-step lockdown exit, Merkel said, adding that "caution should be the watchword, not over-confidence".

As of Friday morning at 9 am, there had been 137,698 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Of those, there were 4,052 official deaths and 77,000 reported recoveries.




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