Health, International

Health risk level of coronavirus in Germany raised to “high”

 BERLIN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The overall risk to the health of the population in Germany was raised from "moderate" to "high", the German federal disease control agency Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Tuesday.
   "We will not be able to contain the spread, we will not be able to stop it, but we can slow it down," said Lothar Wieler, president of the RKI, during a press conference on Tuesday.
   According to RKI, COVID-19 cases in Germany have increased by 1,174 from Sunday to 6,012 on Monday, with 13 deaths. 
   "Stronger measures have become necessary in order to further slow down the spread of the virus and not to overburden treatment capacities," said Wieler. 
   Hospitals in Germany that were currently not severely affected would now need to "prepare for selective surgery to be shut down in order to free up capacity", stressed Wieler, adding "testing must be used strategically."
   The burden on the German health care system would largely depend on the regional spread of the infection, the available capacities and the countermeasures taken such as isolation and quarantine and "can be very high locally", RKI noted. 
   In Germany, efforts continued to minimize the number of people falling ill and to "gain time to make further preparations", such as protective measures for particularly vulnerable groups, increasing treatment capacity in hospitals and enabling the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines. 
   In addition, a group of experts from more than 10 institutions was working with RKI to develop a mobile phone tracking application to fight the pandemic. Such a tracking system would "enormously support" local health authorities in Germany, stressed Wieler.
   Once data security and technical issues were solved, mobile tracking would be a "sensible concept", according to Wieler, who said he was "very optimistic that we will have a very convincing concept shortly".  Xinhua