Daily Host Nation Stories for May 14, 2020
Kawasaki Syndrome-More and more severe cases in children
After an accumulation of severe inflammation in children, doctors are alarmed. The coronavirus could be the trigger. One thing is clear: Most children have mild symptoms at best.
Since the end of April, reports have been making headlines about severe courses of disease in children infected with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. French Health Minister Olivier Véran expressed concern after some 15 children became seriously ill in Paris. The symptoms were similar to those of the so-called Kawasaki syndrome: inflammation of the blood vessels, fever lasting for days and skin rash.
His British colleague Matt Hancock had previously described several such cases in children. Hancock said that the symptoms were apparently caused by an overreaction of the immune system and could have their origin in the corona virus.
In Italy, Spain and Switzerland, physicians also reported severe inflammation in young patients. And last weekend, the governor of the US state of New York, Andrew Cuomo, reported that more than 70 children suffering from severe inflammation were last treated there. Three of them died. Similar cases have also been reported from other states. However, it is still unclear whether these diseases are actually related to the corona pandemic. Although evidence of infection with the virus was found in many of the children, not in all of them. And Kawasaki’s syndrome also occurred before the corona pandemic.
In Germany, about 450 children are affected every year, says Johannes Hübner, Chairman of the German Society for Pediatric Infectiology and Deputy Director of the Pediatric Clinic at the University of Munich. And so far the statistics do not show that the number of these diseases has increased recently.
But doctors around the world have been alarmed since British doctors reported an “unheard-of accumulation” of such cases in the journal Lancet in early May. Over a period of ten days, eight children suffered hyperinflammatory shock similar to Kawasaki’s syndrome, the doctors said, adding: “All children were previously healthy and fit.
“We take these reports very seriously,” said Reinhard Berner, who, as director of the children’s clinic at the University of Dresden, is on the board of the German Society for Child and Youth Medicine. He considers it “quite plausible” that an infection with SARS-CoV-2 leads to a kind of Kawasaki syndrome in children.
Although the cause of this clinical picture is still unknown, the syndrome probably develops because the immune system overreacts to a respiratory infection. Corona viruses have been considered as possible pathogens for quite some time. However, according to Berner, five such Kawasaki cases have been registered in Germany in children after infection with SARS-CoV-2.
The vast majority of children infected with the corona virus have only very mild symptoms. A total of more than 10,000 SARS-CoV-2 infections in children and adolescents have now been registered in Germany. It is not known how many more have not even noticed an infection. According to the Robert Koch Institute, three patients under 20 years of age have died so far. However, it is not clear whether an overreaction of the immune system occurred in them. In the USA, where by far the most infections occur, a total of ten children up to the age of 14 years who were infected with the corona virus had died by May 6th, according to the CDC health authority. (Ard, May 12)
Study: Coronavirus could be transmitted mainly while speaking
According to a new study, the coronavirus could possibly be transmitted mainly when speaking. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, shows that micro droplets emitted during speech can remain in the air for more than ten minutes in a closed room. Given the known concentration of corona virus in saliva, the scientists assume that every minute of loud speech can produce more than a thousand virus-contaminated droplets. If the extent of the risk of infection is confirmed by speaking, this could explain the rapid spread of the virus and at the same time provide scientific support for recommendations in many countries for wearing face masks. (Focus, May 13)
Corona Steering Group decides easing restrictions
Visiting sick people, taking children to day-care centers, taking adult education courses: The Corona Steering Group in Baden-Württemberg has decided to ease on some more restrictions. According to these, citizens will be allowed to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes as of Monday, May 18. “Each patient will then be allowed to visit a maximum of two people a day,” said a statement by the Ministry of State on Wednesday evening. However, visitors would have to leave personal data for any contact tracking.
Accordingly, Daycare centers will also be allowed to open again with restrictions from Monday onwards. A maximum of 50 percent of the children who normally attend the respective day care center are allowed to attend. Children in extended emergency care or with special needs have priority. Minister of Education Susanne Eisenmann had already announced the gradual opening of day-care centers.
Apprentices in their first year of training are to be able to resume their vocational training as of May 18. Gradually, the respective educational institutions will then reopen. Further education at adult education centers will then also be possible again to a limited extent.
The steering group “SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus)” is the interface between the federal, state and local governments in Baden-Württemberg. It organizes measures to combat the corona pandemic. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 14)
Operations at Frankfurt Airport almost come to a standstill
Travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus have brought air traffic at Frankfurt Airport almost to a standstill. In April, Frankfurt Airport recorded a 96.9 percent year-on-year decline in passenger numbers to 188,078 passengers, the airport operator announced. Nevertheless, Frankfurt is a major hub in Europe. An average of 218 takeoffs and landings per day took place. This was by far the largest number of aircraft movements of all European airports. (Frankfurter Zeitung, May 13)
Spahn: Doubt whether demo dissolution would be “proportional”
Health Minister Jens Spahn has urged the security authorities to be lenient during peaceful demonstrations in connection with the corona restrictions, even if distance rules are not observed. “The following applies to all large crowds: anyone who does not observe the rules of distance endangers himself and others, because that is where the virus spreads more rapidly. Should a peaceful demonstration therefore be broken up? I have great doubts as to whether that would be proportionate,” Spahn told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. He said he understood the protests. “I am very aware of how deeply we have encroached on the liberal rights of citizens. There is a debate about how far and how long print runs in Corona times go, of course,” said Spahn. “It would be very disturbing if this controversy did not exist.”(Ntv, May 13)
Spahn deems immunity card to be necessary
Federal Health Minister Spahn deems immunity card to be necessary, despite of opposition from the SPD party. Spahn told the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland” that more attention will have to be paid to the question “which restrictions will apply for whom and when”.
“Other States are already planning to make entry into Germany dependent on such a proof of immunity in the future,” Spahn emphasized. “After all, the solution cannot be that our citizens can no longer travel to countries that are planning such regulations.” Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to pursue the plans to introduce an immunity card. Virologist Alexander Kekulé thinks very little of the federal government’s plans to open the border.
The introduction of an immunity card was originally planned in the Second Pandemic Law, which is to be passed in the Bundestag on Thursday. However, due to opposition from the SPD parliamentary group, the plan was cancelled. (Welt, May 14)
State of BW plans improvement of Corona ordinances
According to information from our editorial office, the State Government of Baden-Wuerttemberg apparently plans to make improvements to the infection protection ordinance in view of the Stuttgart mass demonstrations against corona restrictions. Minister of the Interior Thomas Strobl told our editorial office that this kind of mass demonstrations caused him great concern in view of the spread of the corona virus, but also with regard to expectations towards the police. Strobl: “It cannot be that we ban families from celebrating communion or confirmation with less than 100 guests and at the same time bring ten thousand people together at the Cannstatter Wasen. Something must be changed.”
Unlike in Bavaria or Berlin, for example, the Baden-Württemberg Corona Ordinance does not yet set a ceiling for the number of participants in an approved assembly. Such a mark would make it easier for local authorities and the police to decide whether to permit demonstrations or to react uniformly in the event of violations. “One simply cannot expect our police force to follow up and sanction every failure to comply with the distance rule,” said the Interior Minister.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of the Interior added that the current assembly law already offers the municipal public order offices the appropriate possibilities to react in case of violations of legal requirements. Nevertheless, an “additional tax” for the Corona Protection Ordinance was not excluded. In mid-April, the Federal Constitutional Court had upheld a constitutional complaint filed by demo organizers against a fundamental rejection of protest events by the state capital in the Corona crisis. At the same time, the court had declared that such events must also take into account the protection of health. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 13)
How Restaurants cope during the corona crisis
The new restaurant owner used the free time. He painted the building at the edge of Hoffeld inside and outside, inside he renewed lamps and the kitchen. After the state government had eased the restrictions and announced a cautious new start for the restaurant from May 18, he bought disinfectant for dishes, cutlery and furniture, as well as visors and masks for the face. He has significantly reduced the number of outdoor seats and the tables have been moved far apart. Instead of 100 guests, he will be able to host a maximum of 40 in the garden, but that is “better than nothing, that’s how it is. We restaurateurs are glad that something is coming at all.” Zoran Dragovic takes a red-and-white barrier tape from a drawer. He will also stretch it under the capital walnut tree.
On Ascension Day, May 21, the party is finally to begin on the terrace in the idyllic valley between Rams- und Weidachbach. Zoran Dragovic has already come up with a concept. He wants to serve the Father’s Day hikers with a white sausage breakfast from 10 a.m., at noon the classic menu with specialities from Germany and the Balkans. Until 20 o’clock he may open his outdoor area. Now only the people have to come – and the weather has to play along. (Stuttgart Zeitung, May 13)
Does Corona crisis prevent (diesel) driving ban?
The new clean air plan for the state capital, which has now come into force, stipulates a driving ban on Euro 5 diesel in the city center, Bad Cannstatt, Feuerbach and Zuffenhausen as of 1 July 2020. The basis for this is provided by the landmark ruling on air pollution control by the Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig in February 2018, which even describes the entire city of Stuttgart as an affected area.
The state capital is responsible for implementing the new small low emission zone. It must order signs and set them up at 160 locations. However, the civil engineering office has not yet ordered the new signs with the inscription “Diesel (except delivery traffic) only available from Euro 6/VI”. A spokeswoman for the city said that they are waiting for a decision by the administrative court in Mannheim. It is “decisive for the ordering process.” After the decision, the implementation is to be started successively.” The financial expenditure is estimated at 250,000 euros; the city is demanding that the state bear the costs.
The conflicting parties, German Environmental Aid (DUH) and the state, have provided the Mannheim judges with plenty of reading material; the senate is brooding over 600 pages. With its appeal in Mannheim, the state wants to ward off the 25,000 euro fine imposed by the Stuttgart Administrative Court in January.
The DUH has reacted with a follow-up complaint. It would like to see members of the governing coalition imprisoned for years for exceeding the nitrogen dioxide limit. The state is taking the position that it has now fulfilled all the conditions of the 2018 ruling. The DUH denies this. The decision will be made in May, perhaps next week. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 13)
Community Enforcement Service monitoring Corona Ordinances
Everything is suddenly different. Even the everyday life of Gerd Maier and his colleagues. He runs the public order office in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, and thus also the employees who are currently – together with the police – implementing the corona regulations. “In the meantime, I already have a folder for the ordinances,” says Maier. Now that the loosening up is coming, a lot of things are changing again, now they have to remember the changes again.
During times of corona his colleagues would spend less time on parking space surveillance, says Maier. But this is justifiable, he says, because the pressure of parking and other problems that traffic causes in normal times for the local authority no longer exist. Since the airport and the trade fair have been shut down, there has been much less activity on the roadsides of the city, says Maier.
Nevertheless, the municipal enforcement service is getting support. Half a dozen of teachers, who are currently unable to work because of the day-care center closures, have offered to travel around the city on bikes and speak to people when they act against the rules. They wear T-shirts that show that they are working for the city. In most cases, a conversation, a reminder of what is currently valid, is enough.
According to the head of the public order office, Maier, there have been 53 violations of the regulations since March 18, most of them in public spaces because people had not observed the contact restrictions or the distance rule, 53 violations for which it imposed a fine, which is nevertheless a positive result for Maier. “That’s absolutely within the limits, for it’s such a new topic for everyone.” Most of those caught would plausibly claim to have forgotten for the moment that they live in corona times.
The speed with which regulations have changed recently can put municipalities under stress. Maier takes the example of playgrounds. Just a few days after the decision was made, playgrounds reopened nationwide on May 6. This is what everyone had heard in the media. However, there were playgrounds in Leinfelden-Echterdingen that were still fenced in with a red and white fluttering band on the opening day. They had not yet been released because there was still a need for clarification here and there, says Maier. But the barrier tapes were still no obstacle for many. They had heard that the playgrounds were open. “These are the things that make it complicated,” he says. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 13)
Corona crisis – Bundestag approves more money for short-time work
Anyone who has to go into short-time employment or loses their job because of the corona crisis will receive more support in future. The Bundestag today approved the Social Package II with the votes of the Grand Coalition. The short-time work allowance will be increased from the current general level of 60 percent of the lost net wage to 70 percent starting in the fourth month. Starting in the seventh month, the rate will rise to 80 percent. (Ntv, May 14)
Heads of state and government demand free corona vaccine for all people
Leaders from around the world have called for free corona therapies and vaccines for all people worldwide as soon as treatments become available. This is what they are calling for in a letter with more than 140 prominent signatories, including South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, and the heads of state of Senegal and Ghana, Macky Sall and Nana Akufo-Addo. The appeal is addressed to the World Health Assembly, which meets next week for its annual meeting and is one of the main organs of the World Health Organization. (Focus, May 14)