Which countries are Germany’s imported coronavirus cases coming from?

Which countries are Germany's imported coronavirus cases coming from?
A sign for free coronavirus tests at Munich Airport. Photo: DPA
With fears that travel could spark a second wave of coronavirus, experts in Germany have broken down where recent cases may have come from.

Travel restrictions in Europe have been relaxed for over a month. And now authorities in Germany are trying to monitor where imported cases are coming from.

The Robert Koch Institute for disease control estimated where 7,977 new infections recorded in the calendar weeks of 27 to 30 (from the end of June to the end of July), originated.

During this period, travel from Germany to many other European countries including the UK was allowed again after the EU travel warning was lifted.

Here's what the RKI found:

The majority of people – 6,809 new cases – during this time were infected in Germany, the RKI estimates. Experts say recent new cases are linked to cluster outbreaks in various settings, including nursing homes and hospitals, facilities for asylum-seekers and refugees, industrial settings plus religious and family celebrations.

READ ALSO: Germany 'greatly concerned' as coronavirus infections grow

Second on the list is Kosovo with 303 probable cases being imported to Germany. Serbia comes next with 242 probable cases being taken into Germany.

Turkey follows with 70 probable imported cases. Five other Balkan countries follow: Bosnia and Herzegovina (67), Romania (36), Croatia (29), and Bulgaria (27).

READ ALSO: How to get tested for coronavirus at German airports

Next it's Northern Macedonia (24) and the Netherlands (24). In total, more than half of all imported infections originate from Southeast Europe. The Federal Foreign Office has issued a travel warning for all Balkan states with the exception of the EU member countries Romania and Bulgaria.

In Spain only 17 cases are thought to have been imported to Germany. High profile politicians recently slammed tourists for ignoring social distancing and mask rules on the island of Mallorca.

This week Germany's Foreign Office advised against travel to three regions in Spain including Catalonia but stopped short of issuing a country-wide warning.

READ ALSO: Germany warns against tourist travel to parts of Spain

The table below (in German) shows the top 15 countries where infections may have originated from during the last four weeks of reporting (end of June and July), according to RKI research.

The only EU country or state with a travel warning currently in place from Germany is Luxembourg, due to its soaring infection rates. The RKI estimates that 10 coronavirus infections were brought in from the country to the Bundesrepublik in the last four weeks.

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Source: The Robert Koch Institute

Compared to the beginning of the outbreak, however, the number of new infections originating from abroad is still low.

According to the RKI report, almost half (46 percent or 2,969 cases) of those infected with Covid-19 contracted the virus outside Germany in reporting week 11 (mid-March).

In mid-May when strict travel restrictions were in force, the proportion had dropped to 0.4 percent – resulting in only 19 cases in one week.

How reliable are the figures?

Keep in mind that the figures are only estimates and may change after being analysed over a longer period of time. It can also be difficult to establish where an infection originated depending on many factors, including when symptoms began to appear.

According to the RKI, a third of the total number of confirmed Covid-19 206,242 cases in Germany (68,477)  did not contain any information on the probable origin country of infection.

Some authority figures in Germany believe the true number of cases being brought through travel could be much higher.

Stefan Brockmann from the state health authority in Baden-Württemberg told DPA he suspects there is a high number of unreported cases.

“We simply do not know how many infected people are entering the country,” he said.

Germany steps up testing after travel

The fear of cases being brought into Germany from the rest of the world remains high.

In order to limit the virus being brought back by holidaymakers and other travellers, people entering the country from a risk area will from next week have to take a free coronavirus test when they arrive on German soil.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany's plans for mandatory Covid-19 tests for returning travellers

The RKI publishes the list of risk areas on its website. The costs for the tests will be paid by public health insurance companies, which are to receive a higher subsidy from the federal government.

Although many airports are still at significantly lower capacities than in the pre-corona period, major airports such as Frankfurt are still seeing around 46,000 passengers every day.

There are also fights running from from high risk coronavirus countries like the USA, Egypt, Brazil and India.

Germany has issued a warning against non-essential travel to so-called Third Countries (non-EU) until August 31st.


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