Local news translated, May 5

Local (German) COVID-19 News

Translation courtesy of the USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Team
May 5, 2020 

Gamechanger from the US military? Corona test detects infected people before they become contagious

A new test developed by a US military research department is designed to identify corona patients before the first symptoms appear. This would be a much more effective way to contain the spread of the virus. However, the test has not yet been approved.

Scientists working for the US military have developed a new test that is designed to identify Covid-19 patients before they themselves become suspicious. The blood test can detect the virus in the body as early as 24 hours after infection, when no symptoms are visible.

The test could be a significant tool in the fight against the spread of the virus, Brad Ringeisen, director of the research department of the US military Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Project), told The Guardian. Ringeisen even speaks of a “gamechanger” in connection with the new test – no other test provides results as early as this one. But it is not yet approved for testing.

The blood test does not specifically look for the virus, but is rather interested in the reaction of the immune system, explains Stuart Sealfon, one of the researchers: “And that responds immediately after infection. This means that much earlier results can be expected than with swabs taken from the mouth, nose or throat, which are usually only used in suspected cases of Covid-19 infection when the first symptoms appear.

The new test could therefore save a lot of time. The patient would thus be sent to quarantine five days earlier, which would have a massive impact on the chain of infection. According to the experts, the test could be a great opportunity, especially for nursing and elderly care as well as for other endangered (professional) groups. (Focus, May 5 2020)

Apparently this pandemic is discouraging the burglars

According to preliminary figures, the corona pandemic will result in fewer break-ins in apartments and houses. This trend can be seen almost nationwide, as a survey of the German Press Agency shows. According to previous findings, for example, in Saxony, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia and Hamburg the number of home burglaries in the corona crisis has fallen compared to before the crisis. 

The same applies to North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state: While exactly 3856 cases of home theft were registered there between March 1 and April 26, 2019, the number of home burglaries in the same period of this year was 2336, according to the state interior ministry. This corresponds to a decrease of almost 40 percent. In addition to the number of domestic burglaries, the total number of criminal activities is also declining in some states, according to the state criminal investigation offices. The decrease in crime affects almost all areas, according to reports from Saxony, for example. According to the State Office of Criminal Investigation in Stuttgart, the total number of recorded crimes is also declining in Baden-Württemberg. (Ntv, May 05 2020)

Normal school operation will not be possible even after the summer holidays

SPD leader Saskia Esken expects restrictions in teaching to continue in the new year. “A ‘normal’ education is currently unthinkable, not even in the new school year”, she told the newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Esken expects that even after the summer holidays, the schools will only be able to offer shift teaching in controllable small groups, accompanied by digitally supported learning opportunities at home. (Ntv, May 5 2020)

32 457 confirmed corona cases in the southwest: 1453 deaths

The number of people in Baden-Württemberg who are known to be infected with the coronavirus has risen to at least 32 457.

This was 68 more than the previous day, according to the Ministry of Health in Stuttgart on Monday. The number of deaths associated with the new virus rose by as many as 31 to a total of 1453, and around 25,200 people have recovered from Covid 19 disease. The Robert Koch Institute for Baden-Württemberg estimates the reproduction rate at 0.68. On average, this means that ten people infected with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen infect around seven more people. (Focus, May 5 2020)

Stuttgart Münster- Disputes over employment termination: Woman lures a colleague into her apartment and attacks him with a hatchet 

After a dispute over her employment termination, a 34-year-old woman is said to have lured a colleague into her apartment under a pretext and attacked him with an axe. The 37-year-old man was seriously injured by several blows to the back of the head.

However, the man had fended off further attacks and attracted attention by shouting loudly. According to police and the public prosecutor’s office in Münster on Monday, witnesses had called the police. The woman was taken into custody.

A spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office confirmed that the 37-year-old had been involved in the company’s planned dismissal of the woman. There had been a dispute with the woman about the termination of her employment contract. She then asked him to help her repair a sink in her apartment. On Sunday evening, she had beaten the man kneeling on the floor with an axe.

Her spokesperson said that for the time being, the prosecution was suspecting attempted murder. The woman, however, had described the incident differently and claimed that the 37-year-old had attacked her. (Focus, May 05 2020)

 Kretschmann does not yet want to ease on contact restrictions

Federal states like Saxony-Anhalt have relaxed the contact restrictions. The Prime Minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg, however, criticizes the solo efforts of other states and demands more unity in action.

Stuttgart – Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) is critical of the advance of some states in easing on corona restrictions. He is in favour of a nationwide coordinated approach, Kretschmann said in Stuttgart on Tuesday before the talks between the state premiers and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) planned for Wednesday. “You can’t stay together if everyone has already decided in advance what they will do”, he criticized.

Kretschmann made it clear that he is against, for example, easing on the restrictions of contact with citizens. In Saxony-Anhalt, a new regulation had come into effect in the night before Monday, with which the state is leading the way nationwide in easing the corona restrictions. From now on, people there will be allowed to be together with five people, instead of one person outside their own household as before. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 5 2020)

Police may access data in individual cases

Starting Tuesday, the police may access data from health authorities on specific occasions. This concerns persons infected with the coronavirus.

Stuttgart – From Tuesday, the police may access data from health authorities on persons infected with the corona virus on specific occasions. On that day, the regulation of the Ministry of the Interior and Social Affairs on the processing of personal data between health authorities and police will come into effect, the Ministry of the Interior announced on Monday.

The regulation is a big step towards more protection from the coronavirus for the employees of local police authorities and police officers, said Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU). “Knowing that someone is ill with corona is one of the best protection against infection.” This would allow officials to take timely protective measures.

Minister of Social Affairs Manfred Lucha (Greens) also praised the measure: “The exchange of data between health authorities and police runs centrally and securely via the State Health Office. This ensures a uniform procedure throughout the state”. It had been possible to reconcile health protection and data protection. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 4 2020)

 Limited joy despite of open stores in downtown Stuttgart

Queuing, whether in front of the bank or any store: the “new normal” which patrons on Königstrasse calmly endure

Now that even bigger shops and department stores are authorized to re-open, the city is getting fuller. The mood is rising – but there is still something missing.

Stuttgart – Let’s start at the beginning: The abolition of the controversial 800 square meter rule now allows even the big stores to reopen completely. Some of them have already been there for customers all over the city center since Monday, such as the two Kaufhof branches in the city center. The others, such as Korbmayer or Breuninger, for example, started step by step.

At Breuninger’s, after almost two months of complete closure, the other locations in addition to the Stuttgart headquarters are fully accessible as of Tuesday: Sindelfingen, Ludwigsburg, Reutlingen, as well as Karlsruhe, Freiburg and Erfurt.

“Challenging weeks lie behind us and we very much welcome the decision of the State Governments in Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia,” Breuninger CEO Holger Blecker is quoted as saying. He said that the team had worked out a comprehensive hygiene and safety concept with the company at an early stage. “Safety has absolute priority.”

Stimulating interim solution – “We are delighted”, says the Managing Director of “Tritschler”, a retail store for household goods since the 18th century. And we are delighted that the specialist retailer for household goods was able to reopen its entire Stuttgart headquarters on Monday. Since 20 April, the smaller stores on Königstrasse as well as in Esslingen and Heilbronn were back in business.

From his workplace he has a good overview of what’s going on in the city. “It feels less than half of the people coming downtown than usual at this time of year”. He hopes that more will soon be sold in the store again; after all, they offer a range of products for life at home – “and there are a lot more people there than usual at the moment”. The Tritschler team has received many calls or messages that customers want to continue shopping regionally. “I don’t see another jolt online, but rather that people are realizing what downtown means to them.”

Although, on Saturday the car parks were emptier than usual, there were a lot more people on the road again. Despite the mandatory use of masks and stands with disinfectants at every shop entrance: many people obviously didn’t want to miss their stroll through the city. The atmosphere was relaxed. Even in the long lines in front of some shops one could see relaxed faces.

In front of the market hall, customers were let in one after the other by security personnel. In the row between the barrier tapes, acquaintances greeted each other – it had been a long time since they had seen each other.(Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 4 2020)

 Coronavirus in Germany- Easing on Corona restrictions still without consequences

More shops have been open again for two weeks. These and other easing measures have not yet been reflected in the Corona case numbers.

Despite initial opening steps, no increase in corona infections has been observed so far. The State Health Office expects a decrease in the number of deaths in Baden-Württemberg

Stuttgart – For weeks, there have been discussions in Germany about how long the “lockdown”, i.e. the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, should last. Many people have their own opinion on this question, the answer is derived from the data.(Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 4 2020)

Construction on the roads in Stuttgarts surroundings

The road surface in Waiblinger Strasse between Seelberg and Daimlerstrasse is being renewed. The road surface in the Waiblinger Straße between Seelberg- and Daimlerstraße in direction Fellbach will be renewed. the construction works will start on Saturday, May 9th at 6am and last until Sunday, May 10th at 10pm. During this time the Waiblinger Straße in direction Fellbach between Seelberg- and Daimlerstraße will be closed and a detour is signposted. The work is weather-sensitive and also depends on the personnel capacities available on the days of execution in the context of the current pandemic situation. Short-term changes to the dates of construction are therefore still possible. (Press release Stuttgart, May 05 2020)

 After use – do we need to disinfect credit cards?

Is it necessary to disinfect the bank cards after completed with the purchase? And if so, with what? Is it even necessary to disinfect the cards?

According to current knowledge, the disinfection of credit cards does not seem necessary because of the corona virus. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has still not received any reports of infection from touching shopping trolleys, door handles or other objects. For this type of transmission, an infected person would have to contaminate an object by directly coughing or sneezing on it. Immediately afterwards, you would have to touch this object and then reach for the mucous membranes. Therefore, if you are careful not to touch your face when shopping and wash or disinfect your hands afterwards, there should be no need to disinfect either your shopping, credit or debit card. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 4 2020)

Millions of antibody tests will be available in May throughout Germany

With a few drops of blood as many people as possible worldwide are to be tested for an infection with Sars-CoV-2. However, it is not yet determined who the health insurance companies will cover the costs for.

Penzberg – Around three million antibody tests against the novel coronavirus are to be delivered to healthcare facilities in Germany by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in May. According to Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), deliveries of five million tests each have been agreed for the following months. “The new test is an important new milestone in the fight against the virus,” he said on Monday at the Roche plant in Penzberg, Upper Bavaria. The test shows who has already had a corona infection. “This is how we gain knowledge about the actual outbreak,” said Spahn. He added that Germany was also working together with other test manufacturers such as Euroimmun.

According to the so-called Heinsberg study, 1.8 million people in Germany may have become infected with the corona virus. This is an estimate based on a model calculation, the University of Bonn announced on Monday.

Due to its high reliability, the novel blood test should also help to eliminate uncertainties about the number of unreported cases. Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Roche Board of Directors, spoke of a completely ‘new level of quality’. According to him, the test has a sensitivity of 100 percent and a specificity of 99.8 percent. The former indicates the percentage of patients in whom the infection is actually detected. The latter indicates how many healthy people are actually detected as healthy by the test.

It is still unclear whether the detection of antibodies is also associated with immunization of the affected persons. Franz said that there is a “very high probability” that detected antibodies also have an immunizing effect. Both the detection and this finding are important factors in reopening society in the current pandemic as long as there is no vaccine available.

“As soon as there are reliable findings about a possible immunity after having gone through infection, the tests will become even more important,” Spahn emphasized. Spahn is currently working on the basic principles for which population groups – for example medical and nursing staff as well as risk groups – the test should be available first. It has to be clarified in which cases the statutory health insurance companies will cover the costs. In general, however, anyone could be tested immediately at their own expense. According to Franz, the tests would cost less than “several hundred euros”. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, May 4 2020)