what you need to know -
the most important facts at a glance:
The experts agree: the worldwide spread of the coronavirus is becoming increasingly probable. The WHO now speaks of a total of 88,930 registered cases in 65 countries, including 80,174 cases in China, where the virus originates, 4,212 in South Korea and 1,689 in northern Italy. 3,043 cases ended fatally.
In the following overview you can read the most important facts about the coronavirus and what you can do to help contain the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus is a novel respiratory infection that affects both the upper and lower respiratory tract.
Symptoms include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, which can lead to pneumonia, but in some cases patients only have mild cold syndromes such as a cold or sore throat, making it difficult for the sufferer to distinguish between coronavirus and influenza. Occasionally, people who have been tested positive for coronavirus do not show any symptoms at all.
However, coronavirus is considered far more deadly than a common flu infection; the virus can have particularly serious consequences for people with a weakened immune system or with previous illnesses. The elderly are therefore especially at risk.
The coronavirus has now also arrived in Germany. Currently, 157 cases of corona infections have been confirmed, most of them in North Rhine-Westphalia (90), Bavaria (26) and Baden-Württemberg (20). In order to keep the spread of the virus as low as possible, it is important to adhere to the following hygiene measures to a greater extent:
- Wash and/or disinfect your hands regularly and thoroughly
- If possible, keep at least one metre away from people who show cold symptoms
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands to avoid infection through the mucous membranes
- Always cough or sneeze in the crook of your arm
- If possible, avoid large gatherings
To prevent the virus from spreading further, major events are cancelled in many places. In France, events with 5,000 or more participants are currently prohibited, in Switzerland, it’s events with 1,000 or more participants.
In Germany, too, some planned major events are not taking place, including the international tourism fair ITB in Berlin. In some affected regions, daycare centres and schools will also remain closed, and many grandstands in football stadiums will remain empty.
What to do if you show symptoms
If you return from a risk area or have come into contact with a person who was in a risk area and show cold-like symptoms within about two weeks, you should immediately call your primary care physician – in serious cases call the emergency physician. If possible, refrain from visiting a doctor in order not to endanger other people. Some places where the virus is currently spreading have even set up a special emergency hotline where people who are potentially infected can inform themselves about the next step.
The currently declared risk areas are:
- China: Hubei province (including the city of Wuhan) and the cities of Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Taizhou in Zhejiang province.
- Iran: Ghom province
- Italy: Region of Lombardy and the town of Vo in the province of Padua in the Veneto region.
- South Korea: Gyeongsangbuk-do Province (North Gyeongsang)
Outlook: Is Germany prepared for the virus?
The WHO has set the risk of global corona spread from "high" to "very high" due to the rapidly increasing number of cases of coronavirus infection. As tagesschau.de writes, Germany is well prepared for further infections, but there may be a shortage of space and personnel to care for a larger number of patients in hospitals.
The fear of the virus spreading is also becoming increasingly apparent in everyday life: As in Italy, many Germans are now panic buying durable food to stock up in case of emergency. Not only in supermarkets, but also in drugstores and pharmacies, people are increasingly faced with empty shelves: in particular disinfectants are out of stock in many places and are therefore offered on the internet at horrendous prices.
Despite a steady increase in the number of infections, the Robert Koch Institute currently estimates the risk to the health of the population in Germany as moderate to low. Nevertheless, the term "pandemic" is increasingly used in connection with the coronavirus. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote on the morning of March 1st, it is therefore the task of the future to treat the phenomenon of a pandemic proactively and avoid scaremongering.
Last update: 02 March 2020, 03:00 p.m.