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How is Germany, in the midst of deconfinement, managing its new sources of contamination?

The German Robert Koch Institute estimated that the “reproduction rate” of the virus (the number of people infected by a sick individual) went from 0.7 to 1.1 in just a few days. A rate higher than the bar below which the epidemic is supposed to have receded.

Cafes and restaurants reopening in the region of Mecklenburg, groups of people enjoying the good weather in the parks or schools again open, and this for more than a week in some Länder … Unlike in France, deconfinement is already well underway across the Rhine at the start of May where a number of shops, places of worship, museums and even zoos are now open to the public.

A relaxation of the measures put in place by the German authorities but which poses the threat of a second wave of the epidemic of Covid-19. On Monday, the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, a benchmark on the subject, reported an acceleration in the number of contaminations with the new coronavirus. In 24 hours, 357 new cases and 22 deaths linked to this disease were identified, raising the total balance to 169 575 confirmed cases and 7 417 deaths in Germany. The virus's “reproductive rate”, measuring the average number of people infected with Covid-19, has gone up – in just a few days 0.7 to 1.1 in the country. However, it must be less than 1 to consider that the epidemic is receding, according to specialists.

For the Robert Koch Institute, these first data are however too recent and limited to conclude that a new epidemic wave is imminent. The virology organization nevertheless calls for surveillance “very closely in the coming days” of these figures. Local and federal authorities, for their part, are starting to take action.

The new German “clusters” are, at this stage, very localized. New sources of contamination have notably developed in several slaughterhouses in the country. In the canton of Segeberg, in the far north of Germany, 109 cases have been recorded in a single slaughterhouse. On Sunday May 10, 205 cases of contamination were identified in a meat processing plant in the canton of Coesfeld, in the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia.

A massive screening campaign was launched in these slaughterhouses and factories after these first cases. It made it possible to test 950 of the 1,200 employees at the Coesfeld site, and to locate a third outbreak on Monday in the town of Bochum, about 60 km away. No less than 22 employees of a meat processing plant tested positive for the new coronavirus, reports German radio. Deutsche Welle*.

The affected facilities have been temporarily closed. The health authorities also inspected the common dwellings of the employees, often foreign workers from Eastern Europe. Their accommodation, equipped with dormitories, was able to accelerate the contamination.

Other new cases have appeared in institutions for the elderly. As in the Land of Thuringia, the canton of Greiz has seen a net increase in new cases, as reported the BBC* which counts 80 contaminations per 100,000 inhabitants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of the 16 Länder agreed on a measure on Wednesday “emergency stop”, reports Euractiv*. New containment measures – or postponement of deconfinement measures could be decided in territories where the infection rate exceeds, for seven days, 50 contaminations per 100,000 inhabitants. The decision could be taken on a very local scale: at the level of a city, a canton or even an establishment such as a retirement home.

If something happens locally, we won't wait for the virus to spread across the country. We will act locally.Angela Merkel at a press conference

This is how confinement returned to the agenda on Friday in the canton of Coesfeld, after the discovery of its source of infections within its meat processing plant. The opening of restaurants or amusement parks, but also the end of restrictions on contact between people, were postponed at least until May 18.

In the canton of Greiz, the regional government is also considering postponing deconfinement measures. While showing his reluctance. “To be clear: we are not going to quarantine the whole canton”, assured its leader, Martina Schweinsburg. Even if two cities, particularly affected by this resurgence of the virus, could nevertheless be reconfigured during the week.

* All of these links are in English.

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