Coronavirus: German health minister describes outbreak as 'manageable'

Jens Spahn says medical facilities have not become overwhelmed as experts urge caution

The coronavirus outbreak has become "manageable" again in Germany as the number of patients who have recovered has been higher than new infections every day this week, according to the health minister, Jens Spahn.

Just days after Germany announced an easing in lockdown restrictions, Mr Spahn told a press conference that the country’s health care system had “at no time been overwhelmed so far”.

"The outbreak has - as of today - become controllable and manageable again," he said.

 

Germany has recorded nearly 138,000 positive Covid-19 cases - the fifth highest globally - but has kept the death rate attributed to the pandemic below 3,900. The German authorities have also been praised for their quick reaction in dealing with the outbreak, carrying out significantly more tests for the virus than most of their counterparts in other countries.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Wednesday that the nation would take small steps out of the lockdown with the partial reopening of shops next week and schools from May 4.

Mrs Merkel also warned that there was "little margin for error" and that "caution should be the watchword, not over-confidence".

Lothar Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, a government agency focused on disease control, struck a note of even greater caution as he counselled that a new infection outbreak was possible.

"We have withstood a first wave very well, achieved through a joint effort by society, but that can change any time," Professor Wieler said.

Each disease carrier in Germany was infecting fewer than one other person - the person-to-person rate dropping to 0.7 - according to latest data from the Institute.

According to Mr Spahn, Germany was possibly as close as a fortnight away from releasing a contact tracing app that would allow users to track when they had been exposed to an infected person. However, more time might be necessary for the technology to be fully developed. "For it to be really good, it needs more like three to four weeks rather than two weeks," he said.

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