The number of infections has been increasing in France and Spain for weeks. Although the Corona rules are sometimes even stricter there than in Germany, the situation is much more tense. Why is that?
Photo series with 36 pictures
It could have been so nice: After the exit restrictions came to an end, the travel time began. Off to Mallorca or the Côte d’Azur. But then the federal government spoke one Travel warning after another for regions in Spain and France – in Spain it now applies to the whole country. The new corona infections skyrocketed in both countries. In Germany, too, the number of new cases is increasing, but things seem to be going much better than in France and Spain. How can that be?
Small details help determine the course of the pandemic
Christian Drosten looks carefully at developments in other EU countries. In Germany you have to be clear that “if we superimpose the curves, we will lag a little behind Spain and France and England,” said Drosten, head of virology at the Charité, the German press agency in Berlin. He emphasized “that we shouldn’t pretend that everything is developing very differently for us. We don’t do a lot of things very differently now either.”
“There are a few details that may be different here than in Southern Europe. Our households are often smaller, we have more one-person households,” says Drosten. There are fewer multi-generation families in which the virus is spread very easily beyond the age limits. “Those are certainly differences. But otherwise Germany is not much different from these European neighbors. That is why we have to be very careful and watch very carefully how things are going now.”
Fiesta instead of siesta: social customs contribute to the spread
The Spaniards have been puzzling and discussing for weeks: Why have the country and especially its capital Madrid become epicentres of the pandemic in Europe again after the successful fight against Corona? Including post-reported cases, there have been 10,000 or more new infections every day across the country for weeks.
Thereby, precautionary measures apply that are more drastic than anywhere else in Europe. For example, the strict mask requirement also outdoors, which is observed by practically everyone. You hardly ever see “refusers”. So why? The authorities have some answers that explain part of the malaise. Much more is being tested, which is why there are more positive results, they say. In addition, there is greater mobility than at the end of the exit restrictions.
More tests, more freedom – but that also applies to other countries. But it is different: the fiesta. The sociable and party-mad Spaniards have become “more careless”, especially at private meetings and when visiting bars, restaurants and nightspots, said many experts and also Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez unanimously. “Our social customs and habits play a decisive role in the spread of the virus,” wrote the newspaper “La Vanguardia”.
Barcelona: Strict rules also apply in the Spanish coastal metropolis. But the sociable Spaniards are becoming more careless when it comes to private meetings. (Source: ZUMA Wire / imago images)
Too much fiesta, too little siesta, says the respected Spanish genetic researcher Salvador Macip from the University of Leicester in England. Especially in summer, the Spaniards are more programmed than other people to come together and “socialize a lot”. But the authorities in Spain also made mistakes. The system for tracking infection chains has long suffered from a lack of staff. New restrictions on freedom of movement were often decided too late in hotspots.
The situation in France is serious: intensive care beds are scarce in the south
In France, one looks a little confused at Germany, where things seem to be going so much better again. In the neighboring country to the west, the number of daily new corona infections has already cracked the 10,000 mark, as in Spain. For comparison: In Germany the number reached its highest level since April in mid-September, but at 2,000 it was still well below the values in other EU countries.
In cities like Marseille, Bordeaux or Paris the situation is particularly serious. However, France is also testing significantly more than in the spring. The number of corona deaths is not increasing massively, the occupancy of the hospitals is viewed with concern – but overall, at least nationwide, it is still at a very low level. In the south, however, intensive care beds are becoming scarce.
Marseille: France is now testing significantly more than in the spring. The daily new infections are over 10,000. (Source: ZUMA Wire / imago images)
The doctor and former health director William Dab criticized in the “Journal de Dimanche” that Prime Minister Jean Castex had recently announced no really strong measures, but only adjustments. Castex wants to reconcile life with the virus and business and school life. France’s strategy is still not clearly defined – if the centralized state was still clearly in focus in the spring and the same strict exit restrictions were imposed on everyone, the government is now making the regions responsible.
The authorities in Bordeaux, Marseille and Nice recently announced stricter measures at the request of the government – specifically, for example, restrictions on alcohol consumption in public places. Nice and Lyon are up next. In general, the rules are sometimes stricter in France than in Germany – in many cities, as in Spain, a mask requirement applies outdoors. In addition, the mask is mandatory at work. But things are also much more relaxed.
France’s Corona app “ridiculous flop”
France tests returnees less extensively than Germany – a quarantine and test obligation only applies to a few selected countries. There is also a lack of follow-up. The Corona tracking app “StopCovid” is – it has to be said so clearly – a flop. It has been downloaded more than two million times and has been viewed less than 200 times, which is even officially described as “ridiculous”. In restaurants and bars there are no forms to identify contact cases.
Similar to Spain, young people in particular become infected with the virus. Here, too, it is assumed that there is too much partying. The French media also note that the minimum distance in France is one meter – not 1.50 meters as in Germany. And the greeting actually includes the bise – that is, kisses – to it. Even if the French make an effort: it is difficult to leave out the famous kiss.