Germany has announced another peak in coronavirus cases and deaths, but has managed to maintain one of the lowest mortality ratios in the world.
There are now 27,436 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany – an increase of 4,764 in 24 hours – while deaths have increased overnight from 86 to 112.
This means that the German death rate is still around 0.4 percent, the lowest of the 10 countries that have been most affected by the virus. The mortality rate in Italy is 9%, while that of the United Kingdom is 5.3%.
The figure has baffled scientists as Germany has a higher percentage of older people than the UK and Italians have generally healthier lifestyles than their German counterparts.
Germany announced a 21% increase in overnight coronavirus cases to over 27,000 with an increase in deaths to 114 – but still has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world (pictured, patients at Leipzig airport )
This graph shows the mortality rate in the six European countries that recorded the majority of coronavirus cases. Germany’s mortality rate is by far the lowest of these
This graph shows the mortality rate in several major countries. Germany is among the slowest so far and the ratio of deaths to patients is also low
Experts have suggested that Germany is simply testing more people for the virus, which means that the country has a much more accurate picture of its total number of infections, which would mean that the mortality rate is lower.
This would reflect the situation in South Korea, which has tested up to 10,000 per day and where the mortality rate is just over 1%.
The German government’s policy is to “do everything to find, isolate, test and treat each case” and “identify each contact person”.
The German National Association of Compulsory Health Insurance Doctors said they have the ability to test around 16,000 per day.
Britain, meanwhile, has tested around 84,000 people in total since the outbreak began two months ago, which means that the real number of infections is likely to be much higher than the official total of 6,600.
The NHS does not recommend that all individuals with coronavirus symptoms be tested, stating that patients suspected of having a virus should stay home if they can cope.
The United States also faced delays in launching mass tests, while Italian hospitals and doctors were overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.
Security personnel keep people away from the streets of Cologne in western Germany while the country fights the coronavirus pandemic
The patients known in Germany are also younger than those in Italy, probably lowering the death rate of a virus that is known to be more dangerous for older people.
Germany also has more intensive care beds than Italy, France or Britain, which means patients could recover more quickly.
The head of the German public health institute said today that “we are seeing signs that the exponential growth curve is slightly flattening”, although the institute’s figures have shown an increase in cases in the past 24 hours.
The news came when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s first coronavirus test turned negative after entering quarantine because a doctor who gave her a vaccination tested positive.
She entered quarantine yesterday, but Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz said today that she is healthy but works from home.
The doctor had visited Merkel, 65, on Friday to vaccinate her against pneumococcal bacteria.
Germany confirmed more coronavirus cases than the UK after adopting the policy of trying to find and treat each case
But the UK has had more coronavirus deaths and its mortality rate is around 5% compared to Germany’s 0.4%
Doctors in yellow protective suits walk past a tent that is used as a coronavirus test center in Berlin’s Reinickendorf district this morning
A second possibility is that the mortality rate in Germany is lower because infected people are younger.
Data from around the world have shown that older people are more exposed to the risk of death if infected with the new coronavirus.
The average age of the overall population of Germany is the second highest in the EU, behind only Italy.
However, the German health institute says that the average age of virus patients in Germany is 46 years old, while in Italy it is 63 years old and in Britain it is thought to be 64.
More than 70% of people identified as infected in Germany are between 20 and 50 years old, head of the Lothar Wieler institute recently said.
As in Scandinavia, the first infections in Germany have been identified in people who had recently returned from ski holidays in Italy or Austria and are likely to be younger.
However, it is also possible that the age discrepancy is itself caused by Germany’s mass tests, which could detect younger patients with mild symptoms who are not confirmed as virus patients elsewhere.
Another possibility is that Germany’s low mortality rate is cause for alarm because some victims are missing.
The German health institution says it generally does not test coronavirus deaths if they have not been tested during their lifetime.
‘We do not consider post mortem tests a decisive factor. We work on the principle that patients are tested before they die, “says the agency.
However, Marylyn Addo of the University of Hamburg medical center told the Guardian that there was unlikely to be a large number of missed cases.
“I have yet to see any data that could suggest a large number of untested crown-related deaths that don’t appear in the statistics,” he said.
“Respiratory clinics have been on the alert for the virus for weeks, so I would be very surprised if there was a significant number of unexplored deaths.”
Furthermore, it is not clear whether this would be a bigger problem in Germany than elsewhere.
A similar theory has been put forward in Bergamo, northern Italy, where officials say the unusually high mortality rate is not fully explained by confirmed virus cases.
This suggests that more patients could have died in Bergamo without Covid-19 having ever been diagnosed.
Journalists keep their distance from each other as they watch Angela Merkel hold a press conference on the coronavirus in Berlin yesterday
Two other doctors die of coronavirus in France, bringing the total to three
Two other doctors died after contracting coronavirus in France, officials said today, a day after the country reported the first death of a doctor who treated Covid-19 patients.
One of the doctors, a 66-year-old gynecologist in Mulhouse near the border with Switzerland and Germany, was infected by a patient during a consultation, according to his clinic.
The other was a 60-year-old doctor in a Saint-Avold hospital near Metz, further north along the German border, according to the mayor of the city.
Both died on Sunday when officials announced the death of a 67-year-old doctor who was among the first to treat coronavirus cases in the northern Oise department, which was seriously affected by the epidemic.
Health experts warn that many French hospitals are already overflowing with coronavirus cases, although the government runs to establish military field hospitals to help cope with a shortage of beds.
Mulhouse has imposed its own night curfew in addition to national house confinement rules that seek to reduce the virus, which has spread rapidly in eastern France.
France is also experiencing a shortage of ventilators for the care of seriously ill patients, face masks and other protective equipment for healthcare professionals.
The French National Health Service reported Sunday that 674 people had died in the country so far – an increase of 112 in 24 hours.
There are also signs that the German health service is better equipped with intensive care facilities.
Germany currently has 25,000 intensive care beds complete with respiratory support, meaning that patients have so far been able to recover quickly.
The government also said it planned to double this figure within the next few weeks to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Germany is therefore better equipped than France, which only has around 7,000 intensive care beds, while Italy has around 5,000.
In Britain, the NHS’s latest figures show that there are just over 4000 intensive care beds across England, with health secretary Matt Hancock declaring Sunday that there are 5,000 fans available in the UK.
The blocking measures recently introduced by Germany are unlikely to account for the low mortality rate.
The German public collection rule for two was only introduced yesterday, too recently to be shown in the data.
This is especially true in Germany, where official data has sometimes lagged behind other counts such as Johns Hopkins University data.
In any case, Germany’s quarantine measures are even less stringent than Spain, France or Italy, which have imposed drastic national blockades.
Contrary to national action in Italy and France, much of the response in Germany was left to the governments of its 16 states, which decided on their own to close schools.
German officials believe it is too early to say whether the current figures offer an accurate picture.
Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s leading public health institution, says he doesn’t expect big differences in long-term mortality rates.
This map shows the latest number of coronavirus cases worldwide, with a global death toll of over 15,000
A jogger walks yesterday along a mostly deserted road in front of Berlin’s Victory Column, with Germany now warning against gatherings of more than two people
The latest quarantine measure, which prohibits meetings of more than two people, will also be imposed by individual states.
“Our behavior is the most effective way” of slowing down the infection rate, Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday.
Certain exceptions to the public meeting rule will be allowed, even for families who live under one roof and go out together for fresh air.
Companies such as massage centers and hairdressers where people come into close contact will also be closed.
And restaurants will remain closed across Germany except for take-away food.
Merkel appealed to people’s “reason and empathy” in implementing the restrictions, saying she had been “very moved” by the way people had followed the measures so far.
“It is vitally vital to obey the rule” to stay at least 6 feet away from other people, Merkel said, adding that “at that distance the risk of infection is close to zero.”
Merkel herself is being quarantined at home after being treated by a doctor who has since tested positive, a government spokesman said yesterday.
On Friday the doctor had visited Merkel to vaccinate her against pneumococcal bacteria.
It may take some time to determine whether the registrar is himself infected since “a test would not yet be fully conclusive,” said spokesman Seffert Seibert.
Merkel has been in office for more than 14 years and has generally been in good health, except for a mysterious series of trembling spells from last summer.
The veteran leader previously broke his pelvis in a cross-country skiing accident in 2014.