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HOSPITAL

Germany sees record death toll on first day of new lockdown measures

Germany registered a record number of deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday, the first day of a new partial lockdown to try and curb a surge in infections.

Germany sees record death toll on first day of new lockdown measures
An empty Covid-19 intensive station at a hospital in Recklinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

A total of 952 people died in the previous 24 hours, according to the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre.

It said 27,728 new coronavirus cases were registered, a figure close to the daily record of infections reported on Friday.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 in Germany worse than ever 'due to carelessness', says public health boss

The previous daily record for fatalities was also reached Friday, when almost 600 people were reported to have died as the number of those in intensive care in the country reached alarming levels.

Some 83 percent of intensive care beds in hospitals were occupied on Wednesday, the Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) said.

The latest figures come as a new partial lockdown was imposed, with non-essential shops and schools closed in a bid to halt an “exponential growth” in infections.

The restrictions will apply until January 10, with companies also urged to allow employees to work from home or to offer extended company holiday.

The new measures were agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel with regional leaders of Germany's 16 states on Sunday.

Europe's largest economy had coped relatively well with the first wave in the spring but it has struggled to contain a resurgence in recent months.

Member comments

  1. Maybe that is an indicator that the lock-downs do more harm than good. The WHO also recommended against lock-downs, why are will still doing it?

  2. Nabarro, who was appointed in February as one of six special envoys tasked to deal with the coronavirus response, warned that national lockdowns are “a very extreme restriction on economic and social life” that temporarily “freezes the virus in place.”
    “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
    This is the direct quote.WHO says lockdowns should only be used as a last resort.
    https://planetfreewill.news/who-special-envoy-on-covid-reiterates-caution-against-lockdowns-as-primary-virus-plan/
    “You don’t want to use those as your primary, and I stress that, primary, means of containment. Because in the end living with the virus as a constant threat means maintaining the capacity to find people with the disease and isolating them,” Nabarro said.

  3. I think the increase is as a result of the population who rushed to the shop on Monday and Tuesday to buy clothes, shoes, etc in preparation for Christmas. Everywhere was chuck ed up.

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HOSPITAL

How the chatty robot Franzi is cheering up German patients

Cleaning robot Franzi makes sure floors are spotless at the Munich hospital where she works, and has taken on a new role during the pandemic: cheering up patients and staff.

How the chatty robot Franzi is cheering up German patients
Franzi at the Munich hospital where she works. Photo: AFP/Christof Stache

“Can you move out the way, please? I need to clean,” trills the robot in German when people block her pre-programmed cleaning route.

“You need to move! I really want to clean!” she squeaks at those who still don't get out of the way. And if that doesn't work, digital tears begin to stream from her LED-light eyes.

“Visitors are not allowed in the pandemic, so Franzi entertains the patients a bit,” says Constance Rettler of Dr. Rettler, the company in charge of cleaning the Neuperlach hospital that provided the robot.

READ ALSO: Small talk with Luna: German robots increasingly in contact with customers

Three times a day, Franzi bustles through the clinic's entrance hall, her feet automatically mopping the floors. Amused patients take photos of her, and some even stop to chat to the metre-high robot.

“Ah, there you are my friend,” cries one elderly lady with a drip on her arm upon catching sight of Franzi.

“One of our recent patients came down three times a day to talk to her,” smiles Tanja Zacherl, who oversees hospital maintenance.

Extra employee

Created by a company in Singapore, Franzi was originally named Ella and spoke English before coming to Munich early this year.

Yet her German is perfect as she tells her interviewers that she “never wants to grow up” and that cleaning is her passion.

When prompted, she can also sing classic German pop songs and even rap.

Franzi on the move. Photo: AFP/Christof Stache

Rettler is adamant that the robot is not taking jobs away from real human beings but instead is supposed to “support” her flesh-and-blood colleagues, who have become harder to come by during the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the pandemic, there is lots of extra disinfecting work to be done in hospitals,” says Rettler.

“While Franzi is cleaning the floors, our employees can concentrate on doing that.”

A robot has its limits however. It is still unable to get into tight
corners, and if it hits an obstacle, it bursts into tears and remains stuck until rescued by a human.

Yet Franzi also has a reason to be cheerful. After a test phase of several weeks, she appears to have settled in at the Neuperlach hospital.

Rettler's company has therefore decided to keep her there permanently rather than deploy her elsewhere.

READ ALSO: How robots could shape Germany's political future

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