Coronavirus: life without social contact

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — Germany has nearly four weeks ahead of Italy in the fight against Coronavirus, virologists say. But this time advantage is being jeopardized. Public life should be further restricted. Is Germany doing enough?

Table set at Sparkasse Bank, Dortmund: “Given the current situation, we all give a smile, but we don’t give a hand.”

One email follows the other without interruption. Employer: has canceled all conferences for next week. Concert organizers announce that the favorite artist will not perform at the weekend. Grandparents will extend visits to grandchildren.

Everything starts out in fear and contributes to preventing the spread of coronavirus.

E-mails or messages on mobile with similar content are very popular these days. Gradually public life in Germany has begun on the road to suspension.

Given the empty Bundesliga jetty, empty playgrounds, trains and cafes, usually overcrowded these days, have plenty of vacancies. It seems to be only a matter of time until all schools, universities, restaurants and cinemas are closed, as in Italy.

Social contacts: unwanted

“We know right now, at the current stage of the pandemic, that we have to virtually stop all social contact so that we have a chance to keep the number of infections as low as possible,” says Patrick Larscheid.

The Berlin-Reinickendorf borough doctor has urged the Berlin senate to take some decisive steps to stop the spread of coronavirus. Public life should be limited as much as possible to the protection of the population.

Patrick Larscheid: “Waiting can cost lives”

The decision to ban activities with over 1,000 visitors is a small one. Everything, where people gather, must be closed.

“Otherwise we will not be able to control the situation anymore,” advises Larscheid. Social contact at last is not just the basis of being happy – Proximity can also get sick if viruses circulate from one host to another.

Italy has reacted, but with delay

So is there a risk in Germany of situations like in Italy? As a measure against the spread of the virus in Italy, all stores except pharmacies and supermarkets have been closed. Even bars, restaurants and hairdressers are also closed.

“A few days ago I begged you to change your habits and stay home,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a video message: “I was aware that this was the first step and would not be the last. It is time to take the next step. ” Thus public life in Italy is completely paralyzed.

Even in Germany we are not far from the next step. When virologist Alexander Kekulé ten days ago called for a two-week break for everyone due to coronavirus in Germany to break the chain of infection of the epidemic at an early stage, many researchers did not take it seriously.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s Land Minister of Health Karl-Josef Laumann responded then that politics should not take measures “that are disproportionate and cause hysteria.”

The Bundesliga match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, just 40km from the city most affected by the Heinsberg infection, also took place at the weekend in front of 50,000 spectators.

The reality with the virus changes every day

Only a few days later the situation changed completely and sporting events with the public are now unthinkable. No one talks about disproportionality anymore: even in Mönchengladbach the first fan-free match with the 1.FC Cologne team, the Hokey’s German Ice League, closed the season prematurely.

In many German cinemas, while the seats between the spectators are empty, many Germans avoid cinemas for fear of contagion. Landes decided to close schools starting Monday (16.03), Landen Baden-Württemberg has postponed the start of summer semester at universities.

Cultural events like the traditional Beethoven festival in Bonn, as well as many fairs, have been canceled. Public life is gradually fading, but still at a slow pace.

Is there enough commitment?

Passenger numbers at Frankfurt airport have fallen by 14.5 percent since the last week of February. The taxi branch reports a loss of up to 40 percent, and proposes that anyone who owns an urban service subscription can now use taxis at half the usual price.

Those who board a bus in Berlin should only ride from the back door to avoid jeopardizing the driver. Long distance trains are now cleared in the interval of two hours, which is normally done every four hours. Doors, door handles and luggage compartments are regularly disinfected.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized many countries for not taking enough measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very concerned that some countries are not responding with proper political commitment to this threat in order to keep the situation under control,” he said in Geneva. Which places he had in mind, it remained unclear. Perhaps this criticism has also been addressed to Germany.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.