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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Germany

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2020 coronavirus pandemic in Germany
COVID-19 outbreak Germany per capita cases map.svg
Confirmed cases per 10,000 inhabitants by district
COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Germany (Density).svg
Map of states with confirmed coronavirus cases (as of 30 March):
  Confirmed 100–499
  Confirmed 500–999
  Confirmed 1000–9999
  Confirmed ≥10000
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationGermany
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China[1][2]
Index caseBavaria
Arrival date27 January 2020
(2 months and 1 week)
Confirmed cases88,808[3]
Recovered21,400 (estimate)[3][4][a]
Deaths
1,193[3]

The 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have been transmitted to Germany on 27 January 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed and contained near Munich, Bavaria. The majority of the COVID-19 cases in January and early February originated from the headquarters of a car parts manufacturer there. Later, new clusters were introduced by travellers from Italy, China and Iran, from where passenger flights were stopped on 18 March. On 25 and 26 February, following the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, multiple cases related to the Italian outbreak were detected in Baden-Württemberg. Other cases, which were not related to the Italian clusters, occurred in multiple regions including Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. A specific cluster formed in Heinsberg was linked to the Carnival in Gangelt.[5] The first deaths, an 89-year-old woman in Essen and a 78-year-old man in Heinsberg, were reported on 9 March 2020.[6][7]

German disease and epidemic control is advised by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) according to a national pandemic plan. The outbreaks were first managed in a containment stage (with the first measures of the protection stage),[8] which attempted to minimise the expansion of clusters. The German government and several health officials stated that the country was well prepared and at first saw no need in taking special measures to stock up or to limit public freedom. Since 13 March, the pandemic has been managed in the protection stage with German states mandating school and kindergarten closures, postponing academic semesters and prohibiting visits to nursing homes to protect the elderly. Two days later, borders to neighbouring countries were closed. On 22 March, the government announced a national curfew, almost identical to those in to Austria and Bavaria, where it had been implemented seven days and three days before, respectively. Individuals are only allowed to leave their living quarters for certain activities e.g. commuting to work, doing sports or for groceries, and not in groups of more than two people if they do not share the same household.

As of 3 April 2020, 88,808 cases have been reported with 1,193 deaths and approximately 21,400 recoveries.[3][4] The relatively low death rate in comparison to other European countries, such as Italy or Spain, led to a discussion on the numbers of recorded and unrecorded cases, including their age distributions, and international differences in the number of intensive care beds with respiratory support. The head of the Robert Koch Institute warned that the German death rate would increase and become similar to other countries.

COVID-19 cases in Germany  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases

Feb Feb Mar Mar Apr Apr Last 15 days Last 15 days

Date
# of cases
# of deaths
2020-02-29
5(n.a.)
2020-02-25
18(+13%)
2020-02-26
21(+17%)
2020-02-27
26(+24%)
2020-02-28
53(+104%)
2020-02-29
66(+25%)
2020-03-01
117(+77%)
2020-03-02
150(+29%)
2020-03-03
188(+25%)
2020-03-04
240(+28%)
2020-03-05
349(+45%)
2020-03-06
534(+53%)
2020-03-07
684(+28%)
2020-03-08
847(+24%)
2020-03-09
1,112(+31%) 2
2020-03-10
1,460(+31%) 2(=)
2020-03-11
1,884(+29%) 3(+50%)
2020-03-12
2,369(+26%) 5(+67%)
2020-03-13
3,062(+29%) 8(+60%)
2020-03-14
3,795(+24%) 8(=)
2020-03-15
4,838(+27%) 12(+50%)
2020-03-16
6,012(+24%) 12(=)
2020-03-17
7,156(+19%) 12(=)
2020-03-18
8,198(+15%) 12(=)
2020-03-19
10,999(+34%) 20(+67%)
2020-03-20
13,957(+27%) 31(+55%)
2020-03-21
16,662(+19%) 47(+52%)
2020-03-22
18,610(+12%) 55(+17%)
2020-03-23
22,672(+22%) 86(+56%)
2020-03-24
27,436(+21%) 114(+33%)
2020-03-25
31,554(+15%) 149(+31%)
2020-03-26
36,508(+16%) 198(+33%)
2020-03-27
42,288(+16%) 253(+28%)
2020-03-28
48,582(+15%[i]) 325(+28%)
2020-03-29
52,547(+8.2%[ii]) 389(+20%)
2020-03-30
57,298(+9.0%[iii]) 455(+17%)
2020-03-31
61,913(+8.1%) 583(+28%)
2020-04-01
67,366(+8.8%) 732(+26%)
2020-04-02
73,522(+9.1%) 872(+19%)
2020-04-03
79,696(+8.4%) 1017(+17%)
Sources:

Notes:

  1. ^ The data on 2020-03-28 does not include new cases from Sachsen-Anhalt.
  2. ^ The data on 2020-03-29 does not include new cases from Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, and Saarland.
  3. ^ The data on 2020-03-30 does not include new cases from Sachsen-Anhalt.

Timeline by state

The spread of registered cases between 27 February and 22 March 2020.

Baden-Württemberg

A test centre in Sindelfingen, Baden-Württemberg. Viral throat swabs are taken in a tent outside to avoid contaminating the laboratory.

On 25 February, a 25-year-old man from Göppingen, Baden-Württemberg, who had recently returned from Milan, Italy, tested positive and was treated in Klinik am Eichert.[9] On 26 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed three new cases. The 24-year-old girlfriend of the 25-year-old man from Göppingen and her 60-year-old father, who worked as a chief physician at University Hospital Tübingen, tested positive and were admitted to the same hospital in Tübingen.[10][11] A 32-year-old man from Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, who had visited Codogno with his family on 23 February, tested positive and was admitted to a hospital for isolation.[12]

On 27 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed four new cases, for a total of eight cases in the region. Two women and a man from Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald and Freiburg, respectively, tested positive. They had had contact with an Italian participant at a business meeting in Munich; he was subsequently tested positive in Italy. A man from the district of Böblingen, who had had contact with the travel companion of the patient from Göppingen, also tested positive.[13]

On 28 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed five new cases, bringing the total number of cases in the state to thirteen. A man from Ludwigsburg with flu symptoms who had tested negative for influenza virus was automatically tested for SARS-CoV-2 and confirmed positive. A man from Rhine-Neckar returning from a short ski holiday with mild cold symptoms checked himself in to the emergency department of the University Hospital Heidelberg and tested positive.[14] A 32-year-old man in Heilbronn tested positive and was admitted to a hospital. He had been in Milan on 21 February and fallen ill with flu symptoms on 23 February.[15] A man from Breisgau who had travelled to Bergamo, Italy also tested positive and underwent isolation.[16]

On 28 February, a man from Nuremberg who was in Karlsruhe on business was admitted to the Karlsruhe City Hospital. His family member in Nuremberg was also ill with flu symptoms.[16]

Bavaria

On 27 January 2020, the Bavarian Ministry of Health announced that a 33-year-old employee of Webasto, a German car parts supplier at Starnberg, Bavaria tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.[17] He contracted the infection from a Chinese colleague who had received a visit in Shanghai from her parents from Wuhan.[18] His was the first known case of a person contracting the virus outside of China from a non-relative — the first known transmission of the virus outside China being father to son in Vietnam.[19]

On 28 January, three more cases were confirmed, a 27-year-old and a 40-year-old man as well as a 33-year-old woman. All three were also employees of Webasto. They were monitored and quarantined at the München Hospital in Schwabing.[20]

On 30 January, a man from Siegsdorf who worked for the same company tested positive.[21]

On 31 January and 3 February respectively, both his children tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.[22] His wife also tested positive on 6 February.[23] A 52-year-old Webasto employee from Fürstenfeldbruck tested positive.[24]

On 1 February, a 33-year-old Webasto employee living in Munich tested positive.[25] On 3 February, another employee was confirmed positive.[26] On 7 February, the wife of a previously diagnosed man tested positive.[27] On 11 February, a 49-year-old Webasto employee tested positive, as did a family member of a previously diagnosed employee.[28]

On 27 February, Bavaria confirmed that a man from Middle Franconia tested positive after he had contact with an Italian man who later tested positive as well.[29]

On 8 March, a 83-year-old resident of the St. Nikolaus home of the elderly in Würzburg was brought into hospital and died four days later diagnosed with COVID-19, becoming the first reported death of the virus in Bavaria.[30]

By 27 March ten more residents of the St. Nikolaus home of the elderly had also died of the virus and 44 residents and 32 employees tested positive. The residency complained about a lack of personnel and protective equipment.[31]

Berlin

A closed off playground in Lankwitz, Berlin

The first case detected in the nation's capital of Berlin was reported on 2 March 2020.[32] On 17 March, the government of Berlin announced plans to open a 1000-bed hospital for COVID-19 patients on the grounds of Messe Berlin in the Westend locality of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.[33]

Brandenburg

Brandenburg's first case was detected on 3 March 2020.[32]

Bremen

Bremen's first case was detected on 1 March 2020.[32] One person has already recovered.[32]

Hamburg

Hamburg's first case, a male paediatric staff at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, was confirmed on 27 February.[34] As of 15 March 2020, there are 196 active cases.[32]

Hesse

On 28 February, Hesse officials confirmed three new cases in Lahn-Dill, Hochtaunuskreis and Giessen. The cases in Lahn-Dill and Giessen were linked to the cluster in NRW, and the case in Hochtaunuskreis to the one in Lahn-Dill.[35]

Lower Saxony

On 1 March 2020, Lower Saxony reported its first case.[32]

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

On 4 March 2020, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern reported 3 cases.[32]

North Rhine-Westphalia

On 25 February, a 47-year-old man tested positive in Erkelenz, Heinsberg at North Rhine-Westphalia.[36] He had been previously treated at University Hospital of Cologne on 13 and 19 February for a pre-existing medical condition. 41 medical staff members and patients were identified to have had contact with him at the hospital; one person from medical staff showed symptoms and tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.[37][38]

On 26 February, his wife, a kindergarten teacher, tested positive; both were isolated at University Hospital of Düsseldorf.[39] His colleague and her partner also tested positive.[40]

On 27 February, Heinsberg confirmed 14 new cases, 9 from Gangelt, 2 from Selfkant, one from the city of Heinsberg, one from Düsseldorf and one from Herzogenrath. Multiple cases were linked to the Gangelter Carnival. All of them were placed in home isolation. This brought the current total to 20 cases in the district.[41][42][5] A medical doctor in Mönchengladbach tested positive and was quarantined at home. He had attended the same carnival event in Gangelt.[43]

On 28 February, Aachen confirmed the first COVID-19 case in the region, a woman from Herzogenrath (Aachen district), who had attended the carnival event in Gangelt on 15 February and underwent home isolation.[44] Heinsberg confirmed 17 new cases, bringing the current total to 37 cases in the district.[45]

On 29 February, the number of confirmed cases in Heinsberg rose to 60. Additionally, one case was confirmed in Bonn, 3 more in the Aachen district (one in Aachen and two in Würselen), and one in Lüdenscheid.[46] Cologne, Mönchengladbach and Duisburg also each reported two cases.[47] The first cases in Münster were confirmed.[48]

On 1 March, cases in Heinsberg rose to 68.[49] a case was confirmed in Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis, affecting a woman from Overath.[50]

On 2 March, the number of positive cases in Heinsberg increased to 79.[51] The Unna district reported its first case, a 61-year-old woman.[52]

On 3 March, cases in Heinsberg rose to 84.[53] Two more cases were confirmed in Münster.[48] The first case was confirmed in Neuss.[54]

Entrance control at the Cologne Cathedral on 21 March to allow admission only to people who want to pray.

On 4 March, the first case in Bochum was confirmed when a 68-year-old man returning from holiday in Italy tested positive.[55]

On 5 March, 195 cases were confirmed by laboratory test in Heinsberg. The local authorities announced that all schools, kindergartens, daycare facilities and interdisciplinary early intervention centres would remain closed until at least 15 March 2020.[53] Six people tested positive in Münster. Four were pupils at Marienschule, one was a child under care in "Outlaw-Kita" day care centre in Hiltrup, and the sixth was a resident of Coesfeld, working at Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe in Münster. The school and the day care centre were closed as a precaution.[48]

On 6 March, confirmed cases in Heinsberg rose to 220. A mobile medical care unit was deployed in Gangelt-Birgden.[56] Bochum's second case was confirmed, after the wife of the city's first confirmed case also tested positive.[57]

On 7 March, three cases were confirmed in Remscheid and one in Wermelskirchen.[58] Bochum reported its third case, a 58-year-old man from Weitmar who had returned from a holiday in Italy.[59]

On 8 March, the count of cases in the state rose to 484. Of these, 277 were in Heinsberg. Bochum recorded its fourth case after a woman tested positive after returning from a holiday in South Tyrol, Italy. She went into quarantine at home.[60] A 44-year-old Münster resident tested positive and underwent quarantine with his family.[48] Düsseldorf confirmed its fourth case, a man who had contact with individuals in Heinsberg. All cases in Düsseldorf were reported to be asymptomatic, or with mild symptoms.[61] There were six new infections in Erkrath, Mettmann district.[62] An additional three people were infected with the virus in Bergkamen, Unna district. They are believed to have come into contact with an infected person during a visit to Hamburg.[63]

On 9 March, the first COVID-19 deaths in Germany, a 89-year-old woman in Essen and a 78-year-old man in Heinsberg, were reported.[6]

By the evening of 10 March, the count of cases in the state rose to 648.[64] All mass events in North Rhine-Westphalia with more than 1000 participants were banned with immediate effect.[65]

On 11 March, the number of positive cases in North Rhine-Westphalia increased to 801, including 3 deaths.[66]

On 13 March, all schools and kindergartens were closed by the government of NRW.[67]

Rhineland-Palatinate

On 26 February, a 41-year-old soldier who worked in Cologne-Wahn military airport and had attended a Carnival event in Gangelt with the 47-year-old patient from North Rhine-Westphalia was admitted to Bundeswehr Central Hospital, Koblenz, the first case in Rhineland-Palatinate.[68]

On 27 February, a 32-year-old man from Kaiserslautern, who had been in Iran, tested positive and was admitted to Westpfalz-Klinikum.[69]

On 4 March, a woman and a child from Wachenheim tested positive and were quarantined.[70]

Saarland

On 4 March 2020, Saarland reported its first case.[32]

Saxony

On 3 March 2020, Saxony reported its first case.[32]

Saxony-Anhalt

On 10 March 2020, Saxony-Anhalt reported 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it the last federal state to be affected by the disease.[71] As of 26 March, the subdivisions of Jessen and Schweinitz in the municipality of Jessen (Elster) are under quarantine, with no one apart from emergency workers allowed in or out. The cause is reported to be an increased number of COVID-19 infections in a retirement home there.[72]

Schleswig-Holstein

On 28 February 2020, Schleswig-Holstein reported its first case.[32]

Thuringia

On 3 March 2020, Thuringia reported its first case.[32]

Other

Repatriated German citizens

On 1 February, around 90 German citizens left Wuhan on a flight arranged by the German government. Upon arrival, they were quarantined in Rhineland-Palatinate for 14 days.[73]

On 2 February, two of the arrivals from China tested positive and were moved from the quarantine location in Germersheim to an isolation unit at the University Hospital Frankfurt.[74]

National Pandemic Plan

State measures to impose social distancing in the federal system of Germany, starting on March 23, 2020, and ongoing as of April 1, 2020.
  All German states have enacted prohibition of assembly of more than two people not from the same household, restrictions on various types of businesses, and other measures.[75][76]
  Additionally, six states have enacted a curfew, with exceptions for the workforce, essential shopping, and various other activities.[75][76]
  Additionally to the prohibition of assembly, two states have enacted an entry ban for non-residents (including German citizens from other states), with exceptions for the workforce.[77][78]

Germany has a common National Pandemic Plan,[8] which describes the responsibilities and measures of the health care system actors in case of a huge epidemic. Epidemic control is executed both by the federal authorities such as Robert Koch Institute and by the German states. The German states have their own epidemic plans. In early March, the national plan was extended for the handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.[79] Four major targets are included in this plan:

  • reduce morbidity and mortality
  • ensure treatment of infected persons
  • upkeep of essential public services
  • short and accurate information for decision-makers, media and public

The plan has three stages which might eventually overlap:

  • containment (circumstances of dedicated cases and clusters)
  • protection (circumstances of further spreading infections and unknown sources of infections)
  • mitigation (circumstances of widespread infections)

In the containment stage health authorities are focusing on identifying contact persons who are put in personal quarantine and are monitored and tested. Personal quarantine is overseen by the local health agencies. By doing so, authorities are trying to keep infection chains short, leading to curtailed clusters. In the protection stage the strategy will change to using direct measures to protect vulnerable persons from becoming infected. The mitigation stage will eventually try to avoid spikes of intensive treatment in order to maintain medical services.

Criticism

As early as January 2013, the German Bundestag was fully informed about the dangers of the global spread of a Corona virus pandemic. A risk analysis predicted how dangerous a global coronavirus outbreak could be. It was described as: "Children […] have […] minor disease progressions", "the risk of death of "over-65-year-olds [is] at 50%". A "vaccine" is "unavailable" - all the more important is the "use of protective equipment such as protective masks, goggles and gloves". The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance [de] (BBK) never set up appropriate stores or had talks with manufacturers and suppliers to prepare for such a situation.[80]

Statistics

Robert Koch Institute

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) lists current numbers of registered cases in Germany and other countries online. For Germany, the cases are also broken down by state. The data was published daily at 10:00 prior to 1 March 2020. Between 1 March 2020 and 9 March 2020, RKI reported cases at 10:00 and at 15:00. Starting 10 March 2020, due to continuously rising case numbers, RKI stopped manually updating the numbers and switched to adopting the numbers that were electronically transmitted. New numbers were published once a day in the afternoon. Starting 17 March 2020, new numbers are published at midnight (0:00) for the previous day.


Confirmed cumulative infections (deaths in brackets) according to data from the Robert Koch Institute[81][b]()
since 24 February 2020

Date States Cases
Total infections
Total deaths
New cases
New deaths
Baden-Württemberg Bavaria Berlin Brandenburg Bremen (state) Hamburg Hesse Lower Saxony Mecklenburg-Vorpommern North Rhine-Westphalia Rhineland-Palatinate Saarland Saxony Saxony-Anhalt Schleswig-Holstein Thuringia
24 Feb 14 2 16
25 Feb 1 14 1 2 18 2
26 Feb 3 14 2 2 21 3
27 Feb 6 14 4 2 26 5
28 Feb 10 15 25 1 2 53 27
29 Feb 14 15 3 30 1 1 2 66 13
1 Mar 15 19 1 1 8 1 66 2 2 2 117 51
2 Mar 19 25 1 1 1 10 1 86 2 2 2 150 33
3 Mar 26 35 3 1 1 2 10 1 101 2 1 2 1 2 188 38
4 Mar 44 48 6 1 2 2 12 4 3 111 2 1 1 2 1 2 240 52
5 Mar 65 52 9 1 3 8 14 10 4 175 7 1 1 3 1 [d] 349 109
6 Mar 91 79 15 1 3 8 15 18 5 281 8 1 1 7 1 534 185
7 Mar 116 117 24 2 4 12 16 19 5 346 10 2 2 8 1 684 150
8 Mar 182 148 28 2 4 13 17 21 7 392 15 4 4 8 2 847 163
9 Mar 199 256 40 6 4 17 20 33 8 484
(2)
19 5 10 9 2 1112 2 265 2
10 Mar 237 314 48 9 4 29 35 49 13 648 [e]
(2)
25 7 22 7 9 4 1460 2 348 [e]
11 Mar 277 366 90 24 21 48 48 75 17 801 [e]
(3)
25 14 26 15 27 10 1884 [e] 3 424 [e] 1
12 Mar 454
(1)
500
(1)
137 30 38 88 99 129 23 688 [e]
(3)
52 14 45 27 31 14 2369 5 485 2
13 Mar 454
(1)
558
(1)
174 44 42 99 148 230 33 936
(3)
102 40 83 42 48 29 3062 5 693
14 Mar 569
(2)
681
(1)
216 61 50 158 203 253 45 1154
(5)
121 40 93 45 60 46 3795 8 733 3
15 Mar 827
(3)
886
(4)
283 84 53 162 286 287 50 1407
(5)
168 32 130 47 103 51 4838 12 1043 4
16 Mar 1105
(3)
1067
(5)
300 94 56 260 342 391 51 1541
(5)
325 85 140 77 123 55 6012 [f] 13 1174 [f] 1
17 Mar 1479
(2)
1109
(4)
345 73 57 310 373 325 45 2105
(6)
442 75 182 58 127 51 7156 12 1144
18 Mar 1609
(2)
1243
(4)
391 92 69 358 432 478 56 2372
(6)
474 88 198 105 159 74 8198 12 1042
19 Mar 2155
(6)
1692
(8)
573 134 80 432 682 669 98 3033
(6)
637 99 275 140 202 98 10999 20 2801 8
20 Mar 2746
(10)
2401
(12)
731 192 121 586 813
(1)
803 131 3497
(6)
801
(1)
146 394 180 266
(1)
149 13957 31 2958 11
21 Mar 3668
(16)
2960
(19)
866
(1)
254 142 587 1080
(2)
1023 165 3542
(6)
938
(1)
187 567 188 308
(1)
187 16662 47 2705 16
22 Mar 3807
(21)
3650
(21)
1024
(1)
274 165 872 1175
(2)
1306
(1)
172 3545
(6)
1053
(2)
187 606 211 347
(1)
216 18610 55 1948 8
23 Mar 3811
(21)
4892
(26)
1077
(1)
288 170 943 1347
(3)
1483
(4)
172 5615
(28)
1177
(2)
200 653 212 383
(1)
249 22672 86 4062 31
24 Mar 5348
(30)
5754
(30)
1220
(1)
343 183 1043 1620
(4)
1764
(6)
199 6318
(33)
1370
(5)
337
(1)
811
(1)
321 478
(2)
327
(1)
27436 114 4764 28
25 Mar 6069
(37)
6558
(37)
1428
(2)
429
(1)
200 1262 1754
(4)
2140
(7)
218 7197
(43)
1591
(5)
403
(2)
959
(6)
375 577
(3)
394
(1)
31554 149 4118 35
26 Mar 7283
(56)
7993
(47)
1656
(4)
477
(1)
211
(1)
1265 2157
(6)
2347
(8)
244 7924
(53)
1816
(6)
433
(2)
1141
(7)
418
(1)
675
(3)
468
(1)
36508 198 4954 49
27 Mar 8161
(70)
9481
(55)
1955
(8)
537
(1)
241
(1)
1693
(2)
2323
(7)
2810
(10)
259 9235
(72)
1971
(8)
505
(2)
1305
(7)
458
(2)
812
(4)
542
(4)
42288 253 5780 55
28 Mar 9781
(101)
11150
(77)
2161
(8)
645
(1)
260
(2)
1765
(2)
2604
(9)
3150
(12)
308 10607
(80)
2212
(11)
550
(2)
1432
(9)
458 [g]
(2)
915
(4)
584
(5)
48582 [g] 325 [g] 6294 [g] 72 [g]
29 Mar 9794 [h]
(101)
12881
(107)
2360
(9)
721
(1)
275
(2)
1846
(4)
2605 [h]
(9)
3450
(21)
348
(1)
11400
(98)
2396
(12)
560 [h]
(2)
1617
(9)
592 [g]
(2)
1005
(6)
697
(5)
52547 [h] 389 [h] 3965 [h] 64 [h]
30 Mar 10943 [h]
(119)
13989
(127)
2464
(11)
761
(2)
286
(2)
2053
(5)
3091 [h]
(13)
3732
(26)
356
(1)
12178
(101)
2584
(18)
706 [h]
(7)
1795
(9)
592 [i]
(2)
1049
(7)
719
(5)
57298 [i] 455 [i] 4751 [i] 66 [i]
31 Mar 12334
(165)
14810
(162)
2575
(13)
798
(2)
294
(4)
2191
(9)
3283
(17)
4063
(34)
366
(1)
13225
(117)
2726
(19)
782
(7)
1882
(12)
680 [i]
(6)
1120
(9)
784
(6)
61913 583 4615 128
1 Apr 13410
(197)
16497
(225)
2754
(16)
881
(4)
311
(5)
2311
(14)
3445
(21)
4382
(42)
406
(3)
14351
(134)
2899
(23)
829
(8)
2034
(17)
750
(7)
1246
(10)
860
(6)
67366 732 5453 149
2 Apr 14662
(241)
18496
(268)
2970
(19)
995
(7)
327
(6)
2406
(14)
3707
(27)
4695
(45)
438
(3)
15427
(161)
3132
(26)
1020
(11)
2183
(18)
804
(8)
1335
(11)
925
(7)
73522 872 6156 140
3 Apr 16059
(285)
20237
(307)
3202
(20)
1075
(9)
341
(6)
2596
(16)
3993
(33)
5081
(65)
468
(4)
16606
(178)
3362
(26)
1079
(12)
2336
(21)
836
(11)
1443
(15)
982
(9)
79696 1017 6174 145
Notes
  1. ^ There are no official numbers for how many have recovered, because recoveries are not always reported in Germany. The number here is an estimate by the Robert Koch Institute.
  2. ^ For days until 9th March the value announced before 10:00 in the morning is shown, as values were originally provided in the morning. As of the 10th of March the value has been announced between 15:00 and 17:00 by the Robert Koch Institute only. From the 18th March onward the value at 00:00 of the respective day is given.
  3. ^ People who have been brought back to Germany from an at-risk area. They were put into quarantine immediately after arrival in Germany.
  4. ^ Since 3 March assigned to the respective state
  5. ^ a b c d e f Robert Koch Institute (RKI) did not update the numbers for NRW on the 10th and 11th of March, these two numbers for NRW are taken from (Source:WDR).[This quote needs a citation] As a consequence there is a drop on the 12th of March, as 688 was the official number for NRW from RKI on the 12th of March.
  6. ^ a b The President of the Robert Koch Institute announced that the method of data transmission would be changed as of 16th of March. Up until this point, the RKI had reported the number of positive test results validated by the institute itself.[This quote needs a citation] Due to increasing numbers, the RKI would now instead report the number of positive test results validated by public health departments, which would likely cause a delay of three to four days. This change could result in a temporary decline in the reported number of cases, but should not be misinterpreted as a decline in infections.[citation needed]
  7. ^ a b c d e f On 27 March 2020 no data from Saxony-Anhalt were transmitted.[citation needed]
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j On 28 March 2020 no data from Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Saarland were transmitted.[citation needed]
  9. ^ a b c d e f On 29 March 2020 no data from Saxony-Anhalt were transmitted.[citation needed]

Data discussion

Testing

In spite of widespread availability of laboratory testing but due to the restrictive RKI testing criteria, Germans without any or unspecific symptoms could not be tested until late March. On 25 March 2020, the Robert Koch Institute announced that people no longer needed to come from risk areas to be allowed to get tested, and prioritized loosened restrictions to test health care workers.[82] RKI criticised that too many people without symptoms were tested.[83] On 26 March, virologist Streeck said that testing labs were at the limit of their capacity.[84] The more a pandemic has spread, the harder it becomes to increase the number of tests because the healthcare system becomes overburdened.[85]

Reporting lag

Incubation period, and turn around time of the only diagnostic test (PCR) can lead to a reporting lag of up to five and ten days.[82]

Because of the federal health care system in Germany, states vary in data collection, aggregation and time of release to the public. Regional health departments initially reported data to the state health department which transferred data to the federal health department, many but not all on the day of receiving them. Reporting switched from manual to electronic. The Robert Koch Institute releases official numbers with an additional delay of several days. Cases reported by federal health departments are added earlier to a project by Funke Mediengruppe, to which Berliner Morgenpost belongs. Johns Hopkins University seems to use the numbers of the Funke project for Germany indirectly while the Funke project uses numbers of Johns Hopkins University for other countries.[86]

The number of unknown cases could be tenfold according to some virologists. Statistician Katharina Schüller advocated for representative sampling to gauge the real number of infected people. The president of German Medical Association and scientists of Kiel Institute for the World Economy supported the initiative.[82]

Number of deaths

As of March 2020, the reported death rate calculated as the number of deaths over the number of infected in Germany was lower than, for example, the Italian one. This has led foreign media to applaud or question it, while virologists, among others the leader of the RKI, warned that the country was simply at an earlier stage of the outbreak and fatalities would soon increase.[87][88][89][85] Different explanations include:

  • Germany tested younger and less sick people more often: their median age was given as 47[89] or 45 years,[85] whereas Italy tested older and sicker people at a median of 63 years.[88] Many early infections happened in skiers returning from Tirol, who tended to be fit people rather than persons at higher risk of complications, and contributed a negligible mortality.[87]
  • Since Germany has no routine for post-mortem tests, unlike Italy it may not have discovered all deaths.[87][88][89] In Spain, the first death was also discovered by a test carried out post-mortem.[90]
  • The elderly in Germany often do not live in larger families, which reduces infections.[87]
  • Germany has many test laboratories and a weekly test capacity of 160 thousand and could have a lower number of unrecorded cases of infections than for example Italy, though the actual number of tests, that is including the negative results was unknown as of 23 March.[87]
  • Italy has several times fewer hospital beds for intensive respiratory care than Germany. Italy and Spain which had far more cases, ran out of beds earlier than Germany.[87] The number of beds, the protective gear and the size of medical personnel can become bottlenecks for providing adequate care.[85] However, as of end of March, it was "too early to say whether Germany is better medically prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic than other countries".[91]

Government reactions

January

On 22 January 2020, the German government considered the spread of COVID-19 as a "very low health risk" for Germans and the virus in general as "far less dangerous" than SARS. New travel advisories would not be necessary.[92]

On 27 January, after the first infections in Germany, the government continued to regard the probability of a spread as "very low". Even if individual cases emerged, authorities would be able to treat them.[93]

At a press conference on 28 January, the Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, stated that he was worrying only about conspiracy theories which circulated on the internet, and said that the Federal Government would counter this problem through full transparency. Hotlines were established to calm down worried callers. After a case was suspected in a Lufthansa plane, the company suspended all flights to China.[94][95]

On 29 January, reports surged that masks were sold out. The government ordered pilots of flights from China to describe the health status of their passengers and ordered passengers to fill out a contact document. The government and health authorities expected more isolated cases but were confident to prevent further spread.[94][95]

On 30 January, on national television a virologist referred to the government calling the flu wave of 2018 more dangerous than coronavirus as negligent and downplaying.[96]

February

On 1 of February 2020, German Health Minister Spahn warned that people infected with the Coronavirus and their contacts might be stigmatised and be socially excluded. He emphasised that the Germans evacuated from China would all be healthy.[97]

On 13 February, at a meeting of EU Health Ministers, German Health Minister Spahn dismissed travel restrictions from or to China by single member states. He decidedly rejected measuring the temperature of inbound travelers.[98]

On 18 February, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had 8.4 tons of protective gear and clothing as well as disinfectants sent to China. This was the second shipment after Germany had sent 5.4 tons of it to China during the evacuation of the Germans.[99]

On 24 February, the Light + Building Trade Fair in Frankfurt was postponed until September.[100]

On 25 February, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Tod D. Wolters, was asked by senators if there were plans for restricting U.S. troop travel to other countries apart from Italy. He pointed to Germany as a potential candidate.[101] AfD politician Alice Weidel demanded closing borders in Europe.[102]

On 26 February, following the confirmation of multiple COVID-19 cases in North Rhine-Westphalia, Heinsberg initiated closure of schools, swimming pools, libraries and the town hall until 2 March. Games and training for FC Wegberg-Beeck were suspended.[103][104] The international German Open Badminton in Mülheim was cancelled.[105] The Cologne-Wahn military airport was temporarily closed.[106][107] The German government opted not to implement travel restrictions on Italy over the coronavirus pandemic there.[108] It also considered itself "far from" issuing a travel warning for the country,[109] which would have enabled free cancellation of trips.[110]

On 28 February, Germany first entered the top ten of countries that had the highest number of coronavirus infections as number nine, in Europe second only to Italy.[108] ITB Berlin was cancelled by its organisers.[111] Heinsberg extended closure of daycare facilities and schools to 6 March. The officials imposed a 14-day home isolation for people who had had direct contacts with individuals in the current cases as well as people who showed flu symptoms.[112] Lufthansa cut the number of short- and medium-haul flights by up to 25%, and removed multiple long-haul routes resulting in 23 long-haul aircraft being taken out of operation.[113] On the same day, Germany enacted new health security measures to include regulations for air and sea travel, requiring passengers from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran to report their health status before entry. Train railway companies must report passengers with symptoms to authorities and the federal police would step up checks within 30 kilometres of the border.[114] The government also declared it would prepare a central acquisition of protection masks and suits to create a reserve, that not all events should be cancelled and that its crisis team would from then on meet twice a week.[115]

On 29 February, it was reported that supermarket chains, such as Aldi and Lidl, had seen an increase in demand, particularly for tinned food, noodles, toilet paper (whose sales rose by 700% from February to March)[116] and disinfectants. The Ministry of Health of North Rhine-Westphalia advised against panic buying, especially of masks, medications and disinfectants, to leave them for those really in need, assuring there would be no shortage of supply even in the event of a quarantine.[117] A day earlier, after recent drastic price hikes and shortages especially of masks, medications and disinfectants which were the result of a steep increase in demand, calls had been made to consumers to leave these products for hospitals and medical practices.[118]

March

1–7 March

Number of cases (blue) and number of deaths (red) on a logarithmic scale.

On 1 March, the number of confirmed infections almost doubled within one day. German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, expressed his optimism that a vaccine would be available by the end of the year. The Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, said the government was prepared for a stimulus package to mitigate the economical impact. The Health Minister, Jens Spahn, recommended that people with symptoms of a cold should avoid mass events.[119]

On 2 March, the German Robert Koch Institute raised its threat level for Germany to "moderate" and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control raised its threat level for Europe from "moderate" to "high". The German Health Minister dismissed the closure of borders or companies or ending large events or direct flights between China and Germany as unnecessary or inappropriate.[120] Germany sent lab equipment, protection suits, and gloves for the coronavirus in Iran.[121]

On 3 March, the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, the Bavarian State Chamber of Medicine, the Bavarian Association of Paediatricians, and the Association of General Practitioners of Berlin and Brandenburg reported a lack of protection gear to handle COVID-19 cases.[122][123][124] The Leipzig Book Fair cancelled the exhibition planned for mid-March.[125] Markus Söder, Minister President of Bavaria and leader of the CSU, and the German Minister for Economics, Peter Altmaier, pushed for financial help for companies affected by the virus.[126][127]

On 4 March, the crisis team considered the acquisition of more protection gear as an "extraordinary urgency". Germany prohibited the export of protection masks, gloves, and suits. North Rhine-Westphalia declared to order one million masks.[128] A parliamentary discussion took place. The Health Minister, Spahn, warned that the consequences of fear could be far worse than the virus itself. Spokespersons of Greens and FDP praised the government for its management of the crisis. AfD-leader Weidel disagreed and also proposed measuring fever at airports. SPD health policymaker Bärbel Bas said measuring fever made no sense because not all infected had it.[129] Israel ordered a 14-day quarantine for all travellers from Germany and four other European countries.[130]

In order to address the severe shortage of hand disinfectants, the Federal Agency for Chemicals within the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued a general decree on 4 March which allowed pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies to produce and sell products based on isopropyl alcohol for this purpose.[131]

On 5 March, the German Federal Office for Citizen Protection and Disaster Support (BBK) said that the spread in Germany was "no catastrophe" and that citizens should prepare for real catastrophes instead. The leader of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom, expressed his concern that some countries showed an unwillingness to act or gave up. He admonished all countries to raise their commitment to the level of the threat.[132]

On 6 March, the German Health Minister Spahn ruled out "any measure leading to restrictions on travel" within the European Union and spoke out against closing all schools and universities in Germany. Spahn recommended not to make unnecessary travels and suggested people coming from risk areas should stay at home. Spahn participated in a meeting with the other European Health Ministers to discuss the crisis. The EU and Robert Koch Institute emphasised that masks and disinfectants should not be used by healthy private persons.[133][134]

8–14 March

On 8 March, the German Health Minister recommended to cancel events of more than 1000 attendees for the time being. The Deutsche Fußball Liga announced to continue the season of its soccer leagues until its regular end in mid-May.[135] Poland announced random temperature checks for bus passengers from Germany near a border crossing starting the next day.[136]

On 9 March, Germany reported the first deaths. The number of COVID-19 infections had nearly doubled to more than 1200 within the last few days, which put pressure on the government to act. Angela Merkel's administration announced measures to cushion the economic blow.[137] Merkel, who had publicly kept a low profile regarding the outbreak, emphasised it was important to slow down the spread and buy time. The government's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said citizens could be "confident that the whole Federal Government, with the Chancellor at the helm, is doing everything possible to contain the spread of this virus."[138] The Health Minister emphasized the responsibility of each individual to slow down spread and ruled out preemptive closing of daycare centres or schools.[139]

On 10 March, Chancellor Merkel announced that between 60 and 70 per cent of Germans would get the virus, an estimate already made nine days earlier by the head virologist of the Charité, Christian Drosten.[140][141] In reaction to a general ban on events with more than 1,000 participants put into immediate effect, Germany's Ice Hockey league DEL announced immediate cancellation of the 2019–2020 season, and that the championship title would remain vacant.[142] Several matches of the soccer leagues, including Bundesliga derbies would be played behind closed doors, a first in the 57-year history of the Bundesliga.[143] Berlin mayor Michael Müller (SPD) disagreed and said that mass events should not be cancelled preemptively and expected the sold-out soccer match between Union Berlin and FC Bayern Munich on 14 March not to be behind closed doors.[144]

On 11 March, having faced accusations over inaction the previous days, Merkel took the unusual step of dedicating an entire press conference on the topic of the COVID-19 crisis. She emphasised "We will do the necessary, as a country and in the European Union".[145] She announced liquidity support for companies, especially via the German development bank KfW, to be realised before the week was over. She insisted again on not closing borders. Merkel recommended everyone avoid shaking hands, for example by looking a second longer and smiling instead. The German health minister added that mouth protection and disinfectants were needless for individuals and that it was enough to wash hands with soap rigorously.[146] The first member of the Bundestag to be tested positive was FDP politician Hagen Reinhold.[147] Several members of the Bundestag for the SPD were placed under quarantine, including epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach, after attending a meeting on 2 March with a staff member of the German Ministry of Justice later testing positive for coronavirus.[148]

On 12 March, US President Trump announced a 30-day travel ban to the US for foreigners who travelled from Schengen area states, including Germany, effective 13 March 23:59 EDT.[149][150] German foreign politicians were caught by surprise by the travel ban and criticised that it was not coordinated with them. They complained that the United Kingdom was not included.[151] Although neighbouring countries had already closed schools, the German minister of education, Anja Karliczek, declared that a nationwide closure of schools was not yet being debate. The Kultusministerkonferenz debated whether the virus could threaten the upcoming school-leaving examination, Abitur. Its director, Stefanie Hubig, decided that the oral examinations in Rhineland-Palatinate between 16 and 25 March would take place according to plan. She also recommended cancelling class trips to risk areas.[152]

On 13 March, 14 of the 16 German federal states decided to close their schools and nurseries for the next few weeks. Germany's neighbours Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark closed their borders.[153] Germany rushed to order 10,000 ventilators from Drägerwerk for intensive respiratory care, twice the order size of Italy and equivalent to the production of a whole year.[154] Germany entered talks for softening its export stop of protective gear for other European Union states.[155] The government decided to give financial support to artists, private cultural institutions and event companies that struggle in the crisis.[156] Scholz and Altmeier assured unlimited credits to all companies of any size.[157] Bundesliga announced that all soccer matches would be postponed until at least 2 April.[158]

On 14 March, several federal states widened their measures to limit public activities. For example, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Saarland closed bars among other leisure venues. Cologne forbid all events in the city centre. Shops noted a great increase in demand for provisions and sanitary products.[159] An FDP member of Bundestag, Thomas Sattelberger, went public on Twitter that he was also infected as he criticised a video created by Germany's largest public broadcaster, ARD.[160] The video presented COVID-19 as a justified reflex of nature by preferably killing the old in the developed world, who ruined the planet with global warming and turbocapitalism, to the effect of less pollution and overpopulation. The authors of the much-criticized[161] video later apologised for hurting feelings and defended their work stressing it was a satire using exaggeration.[162][160]

15–21 March

Control at the border to France at the Europe Bridge in Kehl on 16 March 2020

On 15 March, local elections in Bavaria took place amid the crisis. Many election workers dropped out so that the elections were "acutely threatened" and teachers had to be conscripted on one day's notice.[163] German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced to shut down the borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg. The measure would begin on Monday and the transportation of goods and commuters would be exempt.[164] Deutsche Bahn decided to reduce its regional traffic and, to protect its staff, suspended further ticket inspections.[165]

On 16 March, the state of Bavaria declared a state of emergency for 14 days and introduced measures to limit public movement and provide additional funds for medicine supplies. Bavarian minister president Markus Söder ordered closures of all sports and leisure facilities starting on 17 March. Restaurants were ordered to limit their dine-in opening hours to before 3:00PM; to ensure a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between guests; and to accommodate a maximum of 30 guests. Supermarkets, chemist's shops, banks, pet shops, and all business that sell essential basic needs are allowed extended opening times including on Sundays, while non-essential shops are to be closed at all times.[166] After public outrage over flights from Iran still landing in Germany without tests or quarantine, the German Ministry of Transport stopped all flights from Iran and China.[167][168] Italian scientists, including virologist Roberto Burioni, warned Germany against underestimating the danger and the director of Eurac Research said Germany needed a lockdown or the numbers would go out of control.[169] In the evening, Merkel announced measures similar to Bavaria for the entire country, agreed on by all federal states and the ruling coalition. This also includes a prohibition on travelling in coaches, attending religious meetings, visiting playgrounds or engaging in tourism.[170] The government stressed it was no "shutdown".[171]

On 17 March, the Robert Koch Institute raised the health threat risk for COVID-19 in Germany to "high". Limits on the testing capacity and a delay of 3–4 days meant that reported numbers were significantly lower than the actual ones.[172] Employment agencies and job centres reported a tenfold increase in calls and had to relax sanctions.[173] Berlin announced the plan to construct a hospital with the Bundeswehr for housing 1000 beds for COVID-19 patients. The Federal and State Governments agreed on a new emergency plan for German hospitals which includes doubling the current capacity of 28,000 intensive care beds, of which 25,000 are equipped with ventilation.[174] After a man tested positive in a refugee centre in Suhl, a quarantine led to days of protest, physical resistance and escape attempts over fences or the sewage system. In an SEK operation with protection suits and tanks, 200 police forces calmed the situation and relocated 17 offenders.[175][176] The Interior Minister of Lower Saxony warned that untrue news could trigger panic buying and conflicts, and demanded laws to punish publishing wrong information regarding the supply situation, including the medical one, or aspects of the virus.[177] In the evening, Merkel announced that she and other EU leaders had decided on an immediate travel ban into the European Union for 30 days for non-EU citizens. She also said the European Commission began to start a collective tender for medical gear.[178]

On 18 March, Germany widened its travel restrictions to EU citizens from Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain, who had up to that time been able to arrive by flight or ship.[179] Germany still received flights from Iran and China due to bilateral agreements, although the German ministry of transportation had said two days earlier it would forbid passenger flights from there. The passengers were not tested for the virus and their temperatures were not taken due to the absence of administrative orders.[180] The head of the Robert Koch Institute warned that the number of infected could rise to up to ten million in two months unless social contacts were reduced significantly, and called for a minimum distance of 1.5 metres to be maintained in all direct contact. The government began to bring back thousands of German travelers stranded in non-EU countries with charter flights. The public health insurance companies assured to cover all expenses related to the crisis with no limitation.[179]

Closed playground in Hannover. On 16 March, going to playgrounds was forbidden.

On 19 March, discussions of the Minister Presidents of the German states and Merkel regarding a curfew were set for 22 March.[181] A German manufacturer of breathing masks for hospitals and doctors complained that his warnings in early February that masks were selling out and his offer to reserve masks for hospitals had remained unanswered by the health ministry. The ministry explained to the press that they had received the messages but deemed itself not responsible and that the numerous offers could not be replied to due to prioritization. Some hospitals reported they were already facing shortages of protective gears.[182] A survey revealed that more than 80% of the doctors in private practice reported a lack of protective equipment.[183] Car manufacturers announced to donate several hundred thousand masks to hospitals, doctors and health authorities. Daimler donated 110,000 masks of their pandemic protection reserve and BMW donated 100,000 breathing masks. Volkswagen announced to donate 200,000 masks of FFP-2 and FFP-3 categories and looked into manufacturing parts for medical equipment.[184]


On 20 March, Bavaria was the first state to declare a curfew, inspired by and identical to Austria,[185] where it had been implemented four days before.[186] The Bavarian curfew would begin at midnight and fine violators up to 25,000. It would remain permitted to go to work as well as to supermarkets, medics and pharmacies, under the condition that the trip is solitary or with housemates. Under the same condition, it is also permitted to do sports outside; to visit the life partner or aged, sick or disabled people that do not live in a facility; and to help others in general or provide for animals. Restaurants except drive-ins and for take-away, DIY shops and hairdressers would be shut down.[187][188] The Federal government scheduled a discussion for 22 March to decide on a nationwide curfew and still faced opposition from the German Association of Towns and Municipalities and reservations, among others from the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, or Minister President of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow.[189] Annalena Baerbock, chairwoman of the Greens, criticised Bavaria's introduction of the curfew as counter-productive, saying that there should not be a competition of which federal state is the fastest and strictest and that there would already be a round of voting on this question with all the federal states and the Chancellor in two days.[190] Starting also at midnight, the state of Saarland, a region close France's badly affected Grand Est region, also put a similar curfew into place.[191] Lufthansa donated 920,000 breathing masks to the health authorities.[192]

On 21 March, after more and more residents of refugee centres tested positive for the virus, asylum seekers were unsettled. In Suhl, some threw stones at the police, threatened to set the residence on fire, and used children as human shields. Refugee organisations demanded smaller residencies, including accommodation in hotels and hostels.[193] The government drafted a change to the German Protection against Infection Act to allow the federal government more power over the federal states. Among others it would allow the health ministry to prohibit border crossings, track the contacts of infected persons and enlist doctors, medicine students and other health care workers in the efforts against an infectious disease.[194]

According to data collected on 17–18 March 2020 spending behaviour in a sample of 2500 people in Germany, with an age range from 16 to 65 years confirmed panic buying, showing a 35% increase in the purchase of noodles, 34% increase in canned food, and sanitizer (+33%), a 30% increase in frozen food, mineral water and soap, as well as a slightly lower degree in prepackaged meals (+8%), toilet paper 26%, facial tissue +24% and medication +19%.[195]

22–29 March

Warning sign at a footpath in Kaufbeuren

On 22 March, the government and the federal states agreed for at least two weeks to forbid gatherings of more than two people and require a minimum distance of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) between people in public except for families, partners or people living in the same household. Restaurants and services like hairdressers were to be closed.[196] Individual states and districts were allowed to impose stricter measures than these. Saxony joined Bavaria and the Saarland in prohibiting residents from leaving their dwellings except for good reasons, which are similar to the ones in the other two states; outdoor exercise is permitted under the new rules only alone or in groups of maximal five members of the same household.[197]

Chancellor Merkel was quarantined because the physician who had vaccinated her two days earlier tested positive.[198] Volkswagen bought medical equipment in China in a double-digit million euro range to donate it in Germany and intends to produce masks.[199]

On 23 March, the government decided on a financial aid package totaling around 750 billion Euros taking on new debt for the first time since 2013, to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.[200] Stephan Pusch, the District Administrator of Heinsberg, asked the Chinese president for help with protective equipment, because the reserve of masks and protective gowns would only last a few more days.[201] Hospitals and doctors urged the government again to address the lack of masks and other protection gear. Berlin received 8000 masks from the nation's central provisioning, which would only mean one mask for every doctor's practice.[202] Of the ten million masks promised by Federal Health Minister Spahn, only 150,000 had arrived so far.[203] A transport plane arrived with masks and coronavirus test kits donated by Alibaba. Other Chinese tech companies like Oppo and Xiaomi also donated masks.[204] Beiersdorf delivered 6000 liters of disinfectants as part of a larger donation of 500 tons.[205]

On 24 March, a delivery of 6 million protective masks of type FFP-2 ordered by the German central provisioning to protect health workers was reported missing at an airport in Kenya.[206] They had been produced by a German company and it was unclear why they had been in Kenya.[207] 10 million protective masks had been ordered by the central provisioning altogether. The lack of protective equipment, especially of face masks and disinfectants, led hospitals to re-use disposable masks. Undertakers requested protective equipment and raising their status to being relevant for the system in order to get priority access to protective gear. Most dentists practices did not have FFP-2 masks and some considered closing their practices.[208] Several alcohol manufacturers started to deliver disinfectants or alcohol to pharmacies and hospitals. Klosterfrau Healthcare announced to donate 100,000 liters of disinfectants and Jägermeister provided 50,000 liters of alcohol for producing disinfectants.[209] As of late March, Deutsche Krankenhaus-Gesellschaft (DKG) reported an estimated number of 28,000 intensive care beds, of which 20,000 had respiratory support. 70 to 80 percent were occupied by non-COVID-19 patients. A project to find out the exact percentage of free intensive care beds in Germany had been started by Deutsche Interdisziplinäre Vereinigung für Intensiv- und Notfallmedizin (DIVI) and half of all hospitals joined it.[84]

On 25 March, the German Bundestag approved, with a large majority, the stimulus package which the government had decided on two days earlier. It also suspended the constitutionally enshrined debt brake in order to approve the supplementary government budget of 156 billion euros.[210] The Kultusministerkonferenz decided against cancelling the school-leaving Abitur examinations, which were currently ongoing in Hessen and Rhineland-Palatinate. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) warned that the epidemic had only just begun in Germany.[211]

On 26 March, Robert Bosch GmbH announced it had developed a new COVID-19 test system, which could diagnose whether a patient was infected in less than 2.5 hours instead of days and could be run automatically at the point of care.[212][213] According to Bosch, the test would be available in Germany in April and could check for 10 respiratory pathogens simultaneously with an accuracy of more than 95%.[214] At night, it was reported the Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, had decided to widen the scope of the entry restrictions, which had previously covered other EU- and non-EU citizens, to also prohibit asylum seekers from entering.[215]

On 27 March, the stimulus package passed the German Bundesrat with large majority. It came into effect the same day with the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.[216]

Drägerwerk announced the first respiratory devices of a total order of 10,000 by the health ministry were finished, but that it was unclear where to deliver them.[217] The fulfillment of the order would extend over a whole year as the company had received many orders from other countries and the German government had not asked them to be supplied first.[218] Drägerwerk had doubled its production of breathing masks and urged Germany to maintain a reserve of masks in the future.[217]

On 28 March, more than three million protective masks bought by Volkswagen arrived at Frankfurt airport in a passenger plane from Shanghai. They were the first shipment of a larger donation of medical equipment of 40 million Euros and were brought to hospitals, doctors and federal agencies in the federal states of Hesse and Lower Saxony.[219] In Berlin and Hamburg two demonstrations for the adoption of more refugees were considered a violation of the contact ban and were dispersed by police forces.[220] Adidas, Deichmann, H&M and many other retail companies which had their shops closed as part of the government restrictions announced that they planned to suspend rent payment according to the new law granting temporary relief during the corona crisis.[221] Christine Lambrecht, called it "indecent and unacceptable"[222] and Bundestag member Florian Post (SPD) published a video of himself burning an Adidas shirt and calling for a boycott of the company.[223] On the morning of 28 March the body of Hesse's finance minister Thomas Schäfer was found next to the Cologne–Frankfurt high-speed rail line near Hochheim am Main; Volker Bouffier suspected his suicide resulted from worries about the future in the wake of the corona crisis crushing him.[224]

30 March – 5 April

On 30 March, Deutsche Bank donated 375,000 surgical masks, which they had acquired in the course of the SARS epidemic.[225]

On 31 March, Jena was the first bigger German city to announce an obligation to wear masks, or makeshift masks including scarves, in supermarkets, public transport, and buildings with public traffic.[226][227] Minister president of Bavaria, Markus Söder, said that the problem of acquisition of masks needed to be solved before discussing an obligation to wear masks, and demanded a national emergency production of protective masks.[228] Intensive care physicians criticized the lack of protective clothing in nursing services, clinics and doctors' practices as a state failure.[227]

On 1 April, the project of a European Coronavirus app was publicized that, unlike apps of other countries, could satisfy the requirements of the EU's stringent data protection, releasable in Germany around 16 April. The project, titled PEPP-PT, involved eight European countries and, on the German side, participation came from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Robert Koch Institute, Technical University of Berlin, TU Dresden, University of Erfurt, Vodafone Germany and (for testing) Bundeswehr. The app would use Bluetooth to register close contact to other people with the app anonymously and warn the user when a person who had previously been in close contact officially registered an infection. Most German politicians demanded that public usage should be voluntary.[229]

Health minister Jens Spahn forbid flights from Iran, effective immediately, on the basis of the new Infection Protection Act.[230][231]

On 1 April, "Germany will extend social distancing measures introduced last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus to April 19 and the government will re-evaluate the situation after the Easter holiday", Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday. She asked Germans not to travel during the Easter break. “We are seeing some small effect (from the measures) but we are far from where we need to be,” Merkel told reporters right after a conference call with the premiers of Germany's 16 states.[232]

On 2 April, the Robert Koch Institute changed its previous recommendation that only people with symptoms should wear masks to also include people without symptoms. A general obligation to wear masks in public, not supported by the federal government and most regional governments, was discussed. It faced the counter-argument of general shortages of protection gear that could not even guarantee supply for the health care and maintenance system.[233] At least 2,300 of German medical personnel in hospitals were confirmed to have contracted Sars-CoV-2. The number of cases from other medical sectors was not systematically collected and thus not known; most federal state governments and the Federal Health Ministry replied to a team of investigating journalists that no information could be given. In Bavaria, where 244 medical practices had been closed due to quarantine (141), lack of protection gear (82) and a lack of childcare (21), the Bavarian State Ministry for Health and Care instructed its health departments not to answer the request for information.[234]

See also

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Further reading

External links