Daily Host Nation Stories for June 26, 2020
RKI: Almost 9000 deaths in Germany
The number of confirmed infections in Germany increased by 477 to 192,556, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The number of deaths increases by 21 to 8,948. For a long time, the number of acute infections in Germany had been decreasing, and the number of new cases had been lower than the number of those being cured. This trend has now stopped. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of new infections reported within 24 hours exceeds the estimated number of those recovered. (Robert Koch Institute, June 26)
Hospitals don’t expect to return to normal operations until 2021
Despite initial steps towards normalization, hospitals in Germany still expect to operate in crisis mode for several more months. “The corona pandemic is not over yet,” said the chief executive of the German Hospital Federation, Georg Baum. “Free personnel and intensive care capacities are still required – also for a possible second wave in autumn.” A return to standard care as before Corona is certainly not possible well into next year. (onetz.de, June 26)
Hesse issues accommodation ban for guests from corona risk area
In Hesse, an accommodation ban for people from regions with an increased risk of corona infection will apply from Saturday. This was announced by Minister President Volker Bouffier and Health Minister Kai Klose. Areas with an increased risk of infection are regions where more than 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants have occurred within seven days. According to the Robert Koch Institute, this currently only affects the district of Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia. The ban on accommodation in Hesse does not apply to people who can present a medically certified negative corona test. “This must not be older than two days,” the state chancellery announced. There are exceptions, including for guests whose stay is absolutely necessary and cannot be postponed for professional or medical reasons. Visits by a close family member or partner are also permitted. (NTV, June 26)
Majority don’t believe in effectiveness of Corona Warning App
The new Corona Warning App has been downloaded millions of times, but according to a survey, confidence in its effectiveness is relatively low. Only 38 percent assume that this app will make a major contribution to limiting the pandemic in Germany, as the ZDF political barometer shows. A majority of 56 percent doubt this. (NTV, June 26)
How dangerous are virus mutations?
The latest corona outbreak in Beijing is being fought rigidly by the authorities there with numerous restrictions. It is still not entirely clear how this could have happened. Genetic analyses of the pathogen can provide clues. As with other viruses, the novel corona virus Sars-CoV-2 is subject to constant changes that lead to the pathogen adapting better to its host. This also makes it possible to establish relationships between the variants and thus trace outbreak paths.
During the current wave of infections in Beijing, genetic analyses have shown that the coronavirus type there is an offshoot of an existing variant. It is in turn similar to a variant that circulates in Europe. This does not necessarily mean, however, that this variant must have been imported directly from Europe. Zhang Yong from the Chinese Epidemic Control Agency described the somewhat confusing situation to the media as follows: “The preliminary results show that the virus comes from Europe, but at the same time it also differs from the virus currently prevalent in Europe. This newly discovered virus should actually be older than the virus in Europe.”
Since the beginning of the current pandemic, more than a hundred mutations in the genome of Sars-CoV-2 have been identified. It is clear that most of these mutations have no consequences for either the virus or the host. However, some mutations can affect regions of the virus genome that are responsible for the formation of so-called “invasion proteins.” For example, the viral spike protein enables the pathogen to enter human cells. Here, a mutation can increase the aggressiveness of the pathogen. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 25)
New rules passed for sports, hospitals and nursing homes
The Steering Committee of the state government of Baden-Wuerttemberg passed a series of resolutions Thursday night after hours of meeting. These resolutions loosen restrictions in everyday life and repeal 14 individual ordinances. The new rules, which will also be issued by decree, are intended to be clearer and easier to understand.
Simplified rules will apply in sport in future: Deviations from the 1.5-metre distance rule will be possible in training and practice, provided it is necessary for training at short notice. However, where constant physical contact is required, such as in martial arts, fixed training and exercise pairs must be formed. The groups in training should not be larger than 20 persons. The hygiene regulations and documentation requirements do not change.
From July 1, competitions with physical contact should also be possible again in mass sports. A maximum of 100 athletes and 100 spectators may participate. With a fixed seating arrangement and a fixed event program, even up to 250 spectators are permitted. This rule is to remain in force until the end of July. From August onwards, up to 500 athletes and 500 spectators will be allowed to participate.
A further relaxation concerns hospitals and nursing homes. Visiting hours in them will no longer be limited. However, the number of visitors will remain limited: Residents can have two visitors a day. The minimum distance and the obligation to wear masks will continue to apply. The restrictions on day and night care are also to be relaxed, as are those on support services in everyday life or voluntary initiatives in nursing care.
In the initial reception centers for asylum seekers, the aim is to continue to prevent the virus from spreading. Even new arrivals who have tested negative are housed separately from the other residents for 14 days to wait for the incubation period before merging.
Music and youth art schools rules are simplified. For group lessons, the maximum group size is limited to 20 participants. For singing and wind instrument lessons, a uniform two-meter minimum distance is the decisive criterion. Special rules apply to wind instrument lessons. Hygiene regulations and documentation requirements must still be observed.
The ordinance regulates both the operation of swimming and indoor pools, thermal and fun pools and bathing lakes with controlled access and the operation of saunas. In addition to the number of authorized persons or access to the pools or saunas, the ordinance also regulates infection and hygiene measures. Swimming courses and swimming instruction may only be given individually or in groups of no more than 20 persons. In saunas, infusions as well as steam baths and hot-air rooms are still prohibited.
The regulation regulates the operation of tourist and long-distance coaches. It applies to operators, drivers and passengers. In addition to specifying when a guest is transported and when the staff may transport guests, the regulation requires a hygiene concept and a clear allocation of seats.
In future, the accommodation of guests is prohibited if they come from a city or district with an increased incidence of infection. The decisive factor here is whether the number of new infections in the home district was higher than 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in the seven days before arrival. The ban on accommodation refers to hotels, inns and guesthouses, holiday apartments, camping sites and caravan sites as well as comparable facilities. Exceptions apply to those persons who can prove with a medical certificate that they are not infected. Exceptions are also possible if the outbreak of infection in a district can be clearly localized. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten June 25)
Man tries to kidnap eight-year-old girl
A man allegedly tried to abduct an eight-year-old girl in Stuttgart. According to police and the public prosecutor’s office on Thursday, the act was prevented by the quick intervention of a passer-by. The suspect was remanded in custody.
According to the investigations, the 50-year-old had approached the girl last Friday on her way home from school. He grabbed the student by the arm and tried to pull her along. The child defended herself and screamed.
A 41-year-old woman noticed this and intervened, and the man fled. A 26-year-old passer-by started chasing the man and was later able to lead the police to the vicinity of the suspect’s home. Officers arrested the suspect. According to the police, they found several items in his backpack and in his apartment, indicating a possible planned abuse.
Further investigations confirmed the suspicion against the 50-year-old who was presented to a judge on Wednesday. The judge issued the arrest warrant. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, June 25)
Senior with air rifle on a balcony
An operation with several police patrols took place on Wednesday evening in Neuhäuser Straße in Bernhausen. Witnesses reported that a man was handling a rifle on a balcony around 7:45 pm. The access road to the building was blocked. While several officers with additional equipment were in front of the building, four residents came out. Investigations revealed that among them was the person. The man, who was over 70 years old, then went back into the building with the police and showed them an air rifle with which he had been on the balcony. The gun and its ammunition were recovered. (Presseportal, June 26)