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German Health Minister Jens Spahn. Wikipedia

Coronavirus: ‘Berlin has not yet taken a single measure’

While Italy has imposed a quasi-quarantine on over 16 million people, the German government's strategy in the Corona crisis is based on advancing the narrative that there is only one choice between hysteria and doing nothing. A solution which shows leadership and prevention seems impossible.

Published: March 10, 2020, 7:37 am

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    So far there is nothing to suggest that the epidemic in Germany will be different the one in Italy, argues Marco Gallina, author of an opinion piece in Berlin weekly Junge Freiheit. On the contrary. The graphs are the same – with a delay of nine to ten days.

    In Italy, the number of Corona cases broke the 1 000 mark on February 29. In Germany, the number of new infections in the comparison period is sometimes even higher. Today Italy has over 7 000 cases with 366 deaths and over 1 000 newly infected. From Saturday to Sunday alone, 133 patients died. The German scenario could look very similar within a week.

    While German Health Minister Jens Spahn has repeatedly emphasized the protection of the population, he has basically not yet taken a single measure that is remotely related to the Italian, Chinese or South Korean solution.

    The chronology of events makes February 23 the “Day X” in the fight against the virus. It was on that day that the Italian government sealed off 50 000 of its citizens from the outside world in two “red zones”. Schools and universities, museums and other cultural institutions were closed regionally. Churches closed their masses, bars closed in the evening and the stock market collapsed the next day, while air traffic was reduced by double-digit percentages.

    The German “Day X” falls on March 3 (188 cases). German government measures: almost nothing. While Italy responded maximally to the threat to its own citizens, the German Minister has issued only “recommendations”.

    On March 7, the head of a health insurance company Andreas Gassen told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung: “With a few hundred infected people in Germany, nationwide school closings would be a hysterical overreaction.” And: “We can’t shut down public life.”

    Gassen had obviously not noticed that the number of cases in Germany had already clearly exceeded the limit of what had caused Italy to act.

    As of Sunday until April 3, Italy has de facto cordoned off the most important centers in northern Italy. The transit was limited to the bare minimum, and public life has almost come to a standstill. Nationwide, schools and cultural institutions were closed for two weeks.

    These are “hysterical measures” from a German perspective, although the situation in Germany is similar to the Italian equivalent of a week ago.

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