The federal government has declared regions in eleven countries of the European Union to be corona risk areas due to the increasing number of infections. This also includes areas in the neighboring countries of Denmark, the Czech Republic, France, Austria and the Netherlands. This emerges from the list of the Robert Koch Institute updated on Wednesday evening. In total, 14 of the 27 EU member states are now fully or partially designated as corona risk areas.
Regions in Denmark, Portugal, Ireland and Slovenia were added on Wednesday. In addition, other regions in France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Croatia, Romania, Austria and Hungary were identified as risk areas. The Foreign Office also issued a travel warning for all these areas on Wednesday evening.
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The Reuters news agency reports that the Federal Foreign Office has issued travel warnings for the Portuguese capital Lisbon and the French regions of Center-Val-de-Loire, Normandy and Brittany. In addition, warnings are given against unnecessary tourist trips to the Irish capital Dublin and the Czech Republic, with the exception of the Aussiger region and the Moravian-Silesian region.
Travelers returning from risk areas must be tested for corona 48 hours before or after entering the country. The travel warning is not a prohibition, but is intended to have a significant deterrent effect. However, it also has a positive side for consumers: it enables travelers to cancel bookings free of charge.
Minister Maas and Altmaier in quarantine as a precaution
After Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Economics Minister Peter Altmaier also went into corona quarantine on Wednesday. “This afternoon I learned that an employee of an EU minister who was present at the Council of Trade Ministers in Berlin tested positive for Corona,” announced the CDU politician on Twitter. “As a precaution, I went to quarantine at home. I tested negative on Friday and I’m doing very well,” he continued.
On Sunday and Monday, Altmaier hosted the EU trade ministers’ meeting in Berlin and emphasized the strict corona requirements for the meeting. As a precaution, the CDU minister had himself tested on Friday to make sure that he, as host, would not infect the guests from the 27 EU countries and Brussels. Of the guests, on the other hand, only those who came to Berlin from a risk area had to be tested before arriving.
The Federal Foreign Office had previously announced on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Maas had gone into quarantine because one of his bodyguards was infected with the virus. Therefore, Maas has to cancel his planned trip to Jordan. A first corona test with the SPD politician on Wednesday was negative, said a spokeswoman. The Foreign Office is now working with the public health service to determine whether and to what extent other people could be affected and what measures should then be taken. The length of the Meuse quarantine remained unclear for the time being.
Nationwide record for new infections in Hamm
In the city of Hamm with the nationwide highest numbers of new corona infections, the value continues to climb. On Wednesday, 94.9 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded within seven days, a spokesman for the city said. On Tuesday, the city with 182,000 inhabitants named 87.1 in the central so-called seven-day incidence. According to the Robert Koch Institute, Hamm was already at the forefront of the infection rate across Germany with an increased value of 80.4. The difference is due to different reporting channels and times.
Since Wednesday, only five people or people from two households have been allowed to stay together in Hamm in order to protect against the pandemic. The student body and the teaching staff in secondary schools must also wear mouth and nose protection during lessons, unless a minimum distance of 1.50 meters is ensured. The conditions decided on Tuesday are initially valid for two weeks.
The city spokesman said: “We assume that the people will support the measures.” You are in an “extreme situation”. However, they do not want to take any further steps at first – unless there is a “new large peak”. The city hopes to be over the mountain by the middle of next week.
The trigger for the corona wave there was a large wedding and associated festivals that took place in Hamm and Dortmund at the beginning of September and a week later in Werl. A total of at least 309 participants from Hamm were present there, all of whom have to be quarantined and tested. “We are in the process of finding out who are responsible and examining how we can hold them accountable,” the spokesman said. This is especially true for the bride and groom and the operator of the location in Hamm. Fines or damages are conceivable.
Federal government draws a positive balance on the Corona warning app
The German Corona Warning app has been available for download for 100 days. Health Minister Jens Spahn and Chancellery Minister Helge Braun took stock at a joint press conference for this reason. It was already known that the app’s balance sheet is impressive – at least when it comes to the number of downloads.
In no other western country has a comparable application been downloaded as often as the application from the Robert Koch Institute. There are now 18.2 million downloads. Since some users have also uninstalled the app or switched off the Bluetooth signals, the number of active users is lower. Experts estimate that 15 million people in Germany actively use the application. This also corresponds to the order of magnitude of the daily access to the Telekom server, where the app downloads the list of all daily keys from the smartphones that are associated with positive test results every 24 hours. Theoretically, 50 million smartphones in Germany are available for download.
Spahn said the app was “an integral part of the everyday pandemic” and not a panacea, but a tool of many in the fight against the virus. Around 5000 users have so far informed other people about a possible infection using the app. That doesn’t sound like much at first, said Spahn. Thousands have been warned that they may be infected. However, Spahn also said that as many people had not used the opportunity to warn others after a positive result, but still called the app a “great success story”.
Chancellery Minister Helge Braun said that because of the high level of data protection in the app, there are few concrete figures about how well the app works. The high level of data protection is not a weakness, but an express strength of the app. Braun also appealed to the population to continue using the app in view of the expected increase in the number of cases in autumn and winter.
400,000 people in other countries downloaded the app in order to use it in Germany. In the autumn it should be possible for the German warning app to also work with other European warning apps. Specifically, a German user could then be warned by a user with an app from another European country if they want to inform contact persons about a possible infection.
However, there are also critics who question the effectiveness of the app. These doubts are also fed by technical inadequacies. The developers of the application, SAP and Deutsche Telekom, draw a positive balance after 100 days, the download figures are a “vote of confidence from the population”. The app uses Bluetooth signals to record which smartphones have come close to each other. However, Bluetooth was never developed for this task. Therefore, the creators of the app have to calculate with values that are often not exact.
The contact determination via Bluetooth is not the only function of the app. The application also calculates the risk, which results from the total time of all risk encounters in the past 14 days. During the first 100 days, this risk assessment did not always work reliably. So it turned out that the app on the iPhone had intermittent dropouts. As a result, some users were not warned or warned too late. After several attempts, this error was fixed in cooperation with Apple.
Leopoldina advises national regulations for autumn
The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina is calling for uniform rules for all of Germany for the Corona autumn a week before Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) consults with the Prime Minister of the federal states. “In order to counter the risk of the pandemic developing more difficult to control in Germany in good time, it is urgently necessary that those responsible in the federal and state governments quickly agree on nationwide binding, effective and uniform rules for the entry into force of preventive measures and these more consistently implement and enforce than before, “said a statement by the academy published on Wednesday.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the scientists have issued statements several times in which they have formulated policy recommendations for dealing with the corona pandemic. The recommendations were incorporated into the discussions between Merkel and the prime minister. They want to discuss how to proceed again next Tuesday. In addition, the Chancellor will meet with the 16 country leaders in a video conference. The background is the increasing number of infections in Europe and Germany and the fear that the situation could worsen again in autumn and winter. “With a view to a possible tense situation in autumn and winter, nationwide uniform rules and escalation levels should be defined for protective measures that take effect depending on the regional infection rate,” recommend the Leopoldina experts.