Germany will cautiously begin to lift its lockdown measures, although Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the country “has to proceed with extreme caution”. Addressing reporters in Berlin on Wednesday, she said Germany is “walking on thin ice” and urged her 82 million citizens to be careful. The nation will start by opening small shops on Monday, April 20, but social distancing rules will still be in place.
In addition, larger car dealerships, bike shops and book shops can also reopen.
Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn said the coronavirus outbreak has become manageable again as the number of recovered patients has exceeded new infections every day this week.
He said: ”The outbreak has – as of today – become controllable and manageable again.”
Mr Spahn added the health care system had “at no time been overwhelmed so far”.
- Vaccine: How long does a vaccine take to make?
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, the federal agency responsible for disease control, said the virus reproduction or transmission rate in Germany had dropped below 1 – meaning one person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average.
Mr Wieler said: ”We see now that for the first time we are below 1.
“We will see whether that remains stable … There can be new infections any time.
“We have withstood a first wave very well, achieved through a joint effort by society, but that can change any time,” he told the news conference.”
The country currently has the fourth highest number of infected people with COVID-19 in the world, behind the US, Spain, Italy.
The number currently stands at 138,763 as of 4pm on Friday, April 17, however, the death rate is much lower than in other countries – standing at 4,201.
Why is Germany’s death rate so low?
With more than 130,000 people infected, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Germany hard.
However, the percentage of fatal cases has been remarkably low compared to other European countries.
Hendrik Streeck, director of the Institute of virology at the University Hospital Bonn, said: “There has been talk of a German anomaly.
Merkel on brink: Insider warns Chancellor could cost her party power [INSIGHT]
German politician says EU should be tougher on debt rebels like Italy [INTERVIEW]
Lockdown LIFTED: Millions of Europeans return to work as shops reopen [PICTURES]
- ‘BBC obsessed with Germany!’ Tory MP blasts Newsnight in COVID-19 row
“‘What are you doing differently?’ they ask me. “‘Why is your death rate so low?’”
There are several answers experts say, and many refers to the mix of statistical distortions and very real differences in how the country has taken on the epidemic.
One obvious reason is that Germany has been testing far more people than most nations.
That means the nation has caught more people with few or no symptoms, increasing the number of known cases, but not the number of fatalities.
However, epidemiologists and virologists have also said medical factors play a huge role.
Germany has plenty of intensive care beds and also has citizens who have widely observed the social distancing guidelines from the very start.
When did Germany go on lockdown?
The coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have reached Germany on January 27, 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed and contained near Munich, Bavaria.
Since 13 March, Germany ordered schools and nurseries to close and postponed academic semesters.
Ms Merkel also announced visits to nursing homes would be prohibited to protect the elderly.
Two days later, on March 15, borders to five neighbouring countries were closed.
On March 22, the German government announced a so-called lockdown and national curfew.
Ms Merkel said individuals could only leave their homes for certain activities such as commuting to work, exercise or purchasing groceries but not in groups exceeding two people if they do not share the same household.
Social distancing rules will stay in place until at least May 3, with Ms Merkel also recommending the use of face masks in shops and on public transport.
As of next week shops under a certain size could open their doors and schools will gradually start to reopen from May 4.
Germany is the latest European nation to start easing restrictions after Denmark, Spain, Austria and Italy announced similar plans earlier this month.
Source: Read Full Article