Two brothers take care of the hospitals and the fire brigade

Dusseldorf A few employees of the fire department in Mülheim an der Ruhr gathered in front of the syringe house. The sun is shining, Chef Sven Werner and his department head for emergency services and disinfection, Andreas Johann, are wearing short-sleeved uniforms. A forklift and a red truck are already waiting in the yard. The onward transport should go as quickly as possible.

The men are waiting for a product that is currently in demand like hardly any other product in the world: respiratory masks. It is corona time and they are their currency: the masks are an important tool in the fight against the virus. And they are not easy to get. There are still supply shortages five months after the outbreak of the corona virus.

In Germany, too, face protection is increasingly becoming a mandatory item of clothing. All federal states introduce mandatory wearing. And the federal government has “strongly” recommended wearing masks when shopping or on buses and trains.

But the fire department in Mülheim has no masks. Marvin and Aaron Steinberg are supposed to solve the problem. The brothers, 32 and 35 years old, have just climbed out of their pickup truck, wearing a T-shirt and jeans. With your Sixt– Rental cars transport the sought-after face protection.

“20,000 go straight to one of our hospitals,” says fire chief Werner, while he examines documents and the forklift lifts the first boxes. “The remaining 30,000 remain here.” These are not masks that you can sew yourself. Most are those with filter protection.

Marvin and Aaron Steinberg (1st and 2nd from left)

Appointment at the Mülheim fire department.

(Photo: Steinberg)

The federal government has so far failed to meet the huge demand for masks. According to Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU), Germany needs a total of several billion pieces within a few months. The large German manufacturers such as the Lübeck-based company Dräger have been producing at their limit for a long time despite the expansion of production. And the global market, in which companies like the US group 3M dominate, is eaten empty by all affected nations like grasshoppers.

This is why makeshift production facilities are being set up all over the world, including in Germany. Whether on an entrepreneurial basis, such as recently at Trigema, the laundry manufacturer of the eccentric owner Wolfgang Grupp. Or at Daimler, where breathing masks are now produced for your own needs. Or citizens sew them at home.

All of these are commendable initiatives. But: The resulting products often offer only limited protection, for example when shopping in a supermarket. They are usually not suitable for medical personnel.

And so there is a gap that people like the Steinberg brothers encounter. Small business owners who are quick to grab, who have contacts with professional providers abroad – and who do it instead of looking at the federal government – and who naturally hope to make a profit.

“What we do is of course just a drop in the ocean,” says Marvin Steinberg. He wears glasses and his shirt says “Corona Crisis”. “But it is a drop that leads to happy faces in many places.”

Also in Mülheim. “We are very happy to have enough stock now,” says fire chief Werner. The mask market has been going crazy since Corona. And no one can say how the situation will develop. “If the infection situation remains as it is, we are well prepared,” says Werner. “But who knows that?”

15 cents profit per mask

Aaron, the trained nursing nurse, and Marvin, who runs a marketing GmbH, have been in business for four weeks. You have set up offices in Mainz and Koblenz. According to their own statements, they pick up between 50,000 and 200,000 masks three to four times a week at Frankfurt or Cologne airports.

The Steinbergs are founding a company. Her name: “Pflegeliebe GmbH”. The Steinbergs customer base is growing steadily. Clinics, pharmacies, old people’s homes, hairdressers and taxi services now order from them. Sometimes small amounts are also donated.

The demand is great. Hospitals sometimes run out of masks, and resident doctors are also concerned about whether they can still treat their patients. It is particularly important that the Steinbergs also offer FFP2 and FFP3 products.

They belong to the type of mask that protects the wearer. FFP2 and FFP3 masks are therefore the appropriate equipment for doctors or nurses who handle potentially infected people. These masks cannot be made at home. Nor do companies like Trigema manufacture them. Special companies are needed for this.

Mask transport in the rented minibus

The entrepreneurs with helpers.

(Photo: Steinberg)

And that’s where the problem begins. There are also producers in Germany. In addition to corporations such as Dräger, medium-sized companies are now trying to gain a foothold in this field. The “Fight Covid-19” consortium, for example, which includes smaller companies such as the bikini company Maryan Beachwear or the mechanical engineering company Reifenhäuser, is currently building a network. Your production goal: half a million FFP2 masks per week.

However, the major mass producers among the specialist companies are primarily located in China. And the market remains chaotic. Even if production has started again in China, the purchase price continues to skyrocket. Before Corona, an FFP2 mask cost about 50 cents. Today, prices in the double-digit euro range are sometimes called up for this.

Of course, this also attracts fraudsters who try to sell unusable goods at a high price or only deliver material against prepayment – which then never reaches the customer. “A lot of providers are dubious,” says Marvin Steinberg. “Many of our customers have already fallen for fraudsters.”

The topic should be rather uncomfortable for the entrepreneur. Because Steinberg, who was also active in the field of gold-backed cryptocurrencies for a while, had once separated from an ex-partner in the dispute. Now there are anonymous articles online that accuse him of fraud. Even a criminal complaint is circulating.

So far, however, there is no convincing evidence. A civil law complaint by his ex-partner definitely failed before the Mainz Higher Regional Court. Steinberg has already had several entries in the network deleted by court. “It was a bad time for me,” he says. He was happy to be able to leave that behind.

Marvin Steinberg

The small entrepreneur has valuable contacts in China.

(Photo: Steinberg)

And he does not hide the fact that he also wants to earn money by supplying masks. However, at reasonable prices. One-way surgical masks cost him an average of 99 cents per piece, depending on the quantity, FFP2 masks between four and 5.50 euros. “The same masks are then partially resold by the pharmacies at a price of 14.99 euros,” says Steinberg.

For comparison: Trigema charges 120 euros for ten of its “reusable makeshift mouth and nose masks”. Steinberg even discloses its margin. On average, he and his brother earned 15 cents per surgical mask, and 40 cents for FFP2 masks.

Complicated procedure

And why don’t they sell to the federal government? Health Minister Jens Spahn recently made three billion euros available for the procurement of protective clothing and introduced a so-called open house procedure.

This means that the state buys centrally and at fixed prices if a manufacturer can supply at least 25,000 masks or gowns and guarantee a minimum standard. Masks, gloves and gowns are to be distributed across the federal states and the medical associations.

But there is much criticism of this method. Spahn had reacted too late, the control did not work, the procedure was too complicated. A German businessman from Taiwan recently reported to the Handelsblatt, who wanted to broker the sale of several million FFP2 masks. And not to the USA, but to his home country. But he just couldn’t figure out who to contact.

Did the Steinbergs hear about the federal government’s trial, did he try it once? “No, we’ve just been doing it that way,” says Marvin Steinberg. But that with the federal government is not a bad idea. But he did not know whom to speak to. Does the Handelsblatt have any contact? An inquiry to the Ministry of Health remains unanswered.

Procurement seems so easy. He has contacts in China, says Marvin Steinberg. He has had a business relationship there for a long time with a mask manufacturer who produces himself and can also get goods from other manufacturers if necessary. He doesn’t want to give the name. After all, it was his competitive advantage. The manufacturer vouches for the quality of the masks, says Steinberg.

Because quality is probably the most important criterion in this business. An FFP2 mask that doesn’t protect against corona viruses is not worth a penny.

Many false copies on the way

But how is the goods checked? A few days before the appointment in Mülheim, the Steinbergs are sitting in a van on their way to Frankfurt Airport. Another car is driving. The Handelsblatt is activated via WhatsApp video.

While Marvin Steinberg explains the process, his vehicles drive to a ramp outside the airport, where around 20 boxes are already waiting for loading. Also on board is Mr. Wu, a young Chinese man who supports the brothers in the process. He has a small export-import business himself, says Marvin Steinberg.

Together with Aaron Steinberg, Wu opens one of the boxes to check the contents. 200,000 surgical masks have arrived today.

Of course, you can only see what the goods look like, says Steinberg. The contents are on the boxes, and on the packaging of the masks there is usually also the CE seal of approval. The boxes would also have to go through customs. Ultimately, it is only the end user who will determine whether the masks are really good. “We only have positive feedback from them,” he reports.

The main problem is getting good quality at reasonable prices. Andreas Johann (Mülheim fire department)

Steinberg offers customers to come to his office in Mainz before buying to inspect the goods with an expert. Only then does payment have to be made – for example by bank transfer.

At any rate, the fire brigade in Mülheim is completely satisfied. “The main problem is getting good quality at reasonable prices,” says department head Johann. He doesn’t just say that.

He previously tested the breathing masks in three ways. He cut them apart and checked their strength. 5 layers, that’s good. He lit a mask with the lighter to see if the material just contracts and doesn’t burn. And finally he poured water into a mask. Since nothing flows out, it is tight. “Passed the quality test,” says Johann.

Then he and his boss Werner can thank you for a gift from Steinberg, staged effectively for the press appointment: 2500 surgical masks are available for free.

Yes, Marvin Steinberg also knows how to advertise for yourself, how to stage yourself. But who could blame him in these strange, difficult times – when breathing masks could become the product of the year, if not the decade?

More: Protective masks instead of bikinis – medium-sized companies convert their production

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Protective mask production in the USA: sleeping in the workshop for a month and 12-hour shifts – video

Protective masks, protective clothing, disinfectant wipes – all of these were produced in Pennsylvania by these helpers to help hospitals. To do this, they slept voluntarily in the workshops and produced in 12-hour shifts.

© Axel Springer SE. All rights reserved.

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Police unions call for nationwide mask requirements

“The more people wear mouth-nose protection in larger crowds, the better their own protection and that of others against a possible coronavirus transmission,” said Jörg Radek, the deputy federal chairman of the police union (GdP), the Handelsblatt. Compared to other conditions, it is “the lesser intervention for the purpose of minimizing the risk of infection”.

The head of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, praised Saxony that it was “consistently the right way”. “It would have been desirable if there had been a nationwide regulation and the mandatory wearing of mouth-nose masks had been introduced both in shops and in public transport,” said Wendt the Handelsblatt.

“And it is also reasonable to achieve the protective effect of a so-called everyday mask with relatively simple means, and Saxony has also provided information on this.”

Saxony had become the first federal state to require a mask for local public transport and retail. The regulation applies from Monday.

A simple shawl or scarf is also sufficient there, said Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU). It does not have to be an expensive FFP2 mask to cover the nose and mouth.

Mecklenburg-West Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) said that anyone using trams, buses or taxis must wear mouth and nose protection in the fight against the corona virus from April 27. Alternatively, a cloth can also be used. For purchases in retail, the only urgent recommendation is to wear a mask.

Federal government rejects mask requirement

In Jena, Thuringia, a mask requirement already applies to local transport, among other things, which has only recently been expanded to work rooms in which more than one person is staying and in which a safety distance of one meter 50 cannot be maintained. The Hessian city of Hanau also ordered a mask requirement.

The Federal Government had only agreed with the Prime Minister on Wednesday to make a mask. Chancellor Angela Merkel said that for better protection, wearing so-called everyday masks is “strongly recommended” when shopping and in public transport. There should not be a general requirement for a mask.

Police unionist Radek emphasized that the measure also helps police officers in their operations. “However, the police are not in a position to carry out general checks on compliance with the compulsory order as in Saxony,” added the GdP vice-president. “Here, too, the public’s insight must be used.” And sufficient protective masks are required.

This is also pointed out by union chief Wendt. “Police officers have the right to have their employer provide enough protective materials to best protect them from infection while they are on duty,” he said.

“It is just as right to expect the population to make a really small, yet effective contribution to protect police, emergency services and other public workers, as well as those around them from being harmed by infections.”

The chairman of the Federation of German Criminal Investigation Officers (BDK), Sebastian Fiedler, also praised Saxony’s move towards a mask requirement. “On the one hand, there is the simple connection that, like all other security agencies, the more masks are worn, the more secure citizen contacts are made for the criminal police,” Fiedler told Handelsblatt.

On the other hand, it is the ultimate opportunity to gradually get social and economic life going again.

Fiedler pointed out that the scenarios that had to do with a recession and, in particular, with high unemployment as a result of the slowdown in the economy, presented “significant challenges for the security authorities”.

“The need to strengthen the police force would slow down as a result of falling tax revenues, and we would have to fear an increase in certain areas of crime,” he said. “So in the long run, homemade masks will also help the security authorities.”

More: Read here why the development of a Corona warning app is delayed.

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European Center opens the door to widespread use of masks, but calls for caution

The European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) has changed guidelines on the use of masks, admitting that they can be used by those who are not sick. A hypothesis especially intended for when someone visits spaces with a lot of people or closed, such as shops, shopping centers, supermarkets or, among others, on public transport.

In a new document published this Wednesday, the European Union center that advises States on matters related to public health opens the door to the use of these masks in a more generic way than before, although not as generic as in Asian countries or even in the United States of America, whose authorities recently also changed their position on the matter.

ECDC now concludes that the use of masks in public can be a means of controlling the expansion of Covid-19 by individuals already infected but without symptoms, even though it is not yet known whether this measure is better or worse than others that have the same goal (halt the progress of the disease).

Cloth masks

For the first time, ECDC refers not only to surgical masks, underlining that these should be used primarily by healthcare personnel, but also cloth masks.


READ ALL ABOUT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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Corona: Ministry of Economy coordinates pandemic production

Brussels, Berlin, Dusseldorf The question has arisen again and again in recent weeks – and again and again Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier avoided it.

Pressed by MPs from the Economic Committee, Altmaier referred to the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Health. The CDU politician, of all people, who has staged himself as an industrial strategist since taking office, has long refused to pursue a corona-specific industrial policy.

Economic State Secretary Thomas Bareiß (CDU) pleaded a week ago in the Handelsblatt for a decentralized, market-driven approach. He is building on “subsidiarity and our federal structure,” said the Altmaier confidant. Locally, supply and demand would come together better “than if it were controlled centrally from Berlin”.

Now the ministry is changing course: This Wednesday, it is supposed to present a draft resolution drafted together with the ministry of health to the federal cabinet. The most important element is the creation of a staff unit to coordinate the production of pandemic supplies.

Coalition circles say that Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is said to have put pressure on the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In her own words, Merkel is striving for a “pillar of in-house production” in Germany and Europe. It is high time for this, the coalition partner believes.

“I see a high level of willingness in many companies to switch,” said Ute Vogt, spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, told the Handelsblatt. “But it needs a quick and well-functioning mediation – I see the duty of the Minister of Economy.”

BDI demands quick political control

In fact, the economy shows initiative. A number of companies have already started pandemic production. Volkswagen produces components for medical devices with 3D printers. Instead of herbal liqueur, Mast-Jägermeister burns alcohol for disinfection. Textile companies like Trigema manufacture protective masks.

However, that alone is not enough to meet the enormous need for corona protective goods. The Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) therefore calls on the federal government to start political governance quickly.

“The important help from industry must not be wasted in unstructured actionism,” said Iris Plöger, member of the BDI executive board, Handelsblatt. The industry can only help in the procurement of corona protective goods and medication if the need, precise product requirements and legal certainty for a quick market approval are clear. “This has to be coordinated centrally at the federal level,” said Plöger.

Trigema boss Grupp: “I don’t use the situation to get rich”

In a statement on the corona crisis, which is available in the Handelsblatt, the BDI calls for government investments in the “construction of a test infrastructure” and payments to companies so that the “investment costs can be absorbed for the common good”.

In order to “avoid capacity bottlenecks caused by pandemics”, state action is required, since no company can afford to “provide the necessary structure in the event of one-time overproduction in free competition”.

Government wants to build “pillar of in-house production”

The BDI paper reads like a blueprint for the new staff unit that is to be located in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Altmaier will not get in the way of the Ministry of Health: While Spahn is responsible for shopping on the existing market for protective goods at home and abroad, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is to initiate the creation of additional production capacities, i.e. to increase the offer.

The Federal Government’s aim is “to set up a pillar of in-house production in Germany and Europe in the medium and long term in addition to the short-term supply of protective equipment, in order to reduce dependencies in this sensitive area,” explains the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

If the first steps towards normalizing everyday life are taken in the coming weeks, the demand for protective goods will continue to increase. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) already said that he expected a general mask requirement.

graphic

Politicians must also take into account the needs of companies “in order to ensure orderly operation for the phase of restarting the economy”, demands the BDI. Many companies worked “in compliance with the highest hygiene standards and are urgently dependent on personal protective equipment”.

The BDI fears bottlenecks not only with breathing masks and protective coats, but also with raw materials and reagents that are necessary for the manufacture of medical goods and medicines. This applies above all to the virus tests, which are to be greatly expanded according to the plans of the federal government.

“While most of the devices and test procedures are available, the necessary reagents and auxiliary materials that are necessary for testing are a problem,” warns the BDI.

In order to remedy the “massive lack of respiratory masks”, the BDI suggests “simplifying the licensing of protective goods”. The association also campaigns for “the lifting of EU export restrictions on corona goods”. These endangered the delivery of medicines and medical devices.

I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly. Thomas Jarzombek, Federal Ministry of Economics

The Ministry of Economic Affairs does not rule out either, but initially wants to use other industrial policy instruments. For example, funding for the development of a corona vaccine is to be increased.

As the Handelsblatt found out, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is providing another 1.3 million euros for a Tübingen start-up team that is pursuing a particularly promising approach. “The search for a vaccine against the novel corona viruses is a race against time,” said Altmaier’s start-up representative Thomas Jarzombek. “I can only say that funding can hardly be used more sensibly.”

The opposition criticizes that the change of heart in industrial policy comes too late: “Many weeks after the crisis, the federal government founds a planning staff. Many could have done that earlier, ”said Katharina Dröge, spokeswoman for the Greens’ political group. “So valuable time has been lost.”

EU Commission has placed bulk orders

The CDU’s economic council looks ahead: “Germany needs an official list of strategic areas, systemically important companies and products at European and federal level in order to guarantee supply chain security for these important areas for future crises and pandemics,” says a position paper by the Economic council available to the Handelsblatt.

One thing is clear: the other European countries are struggling with similar problems to Germany. There is “a global scramble” for scarce protective equipment and other medical goods, said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic on Tuesday. “The virus has spread faster and further than anyone expected.” The shortage in Europe had become apparent when Italy unsuccessfully asked the other EU countries for deliveries in early March.

Handelsblatt Morning Briefing - Corona Spezial

The Brussels authority is trying to coordinate national activities. So that the EU countries do not outbid each other on the market, the Commission has placed bulk orders with the manufacturers.

The first contracts for the supply of goggles and masks have been signed, according to Lenarcic. At the same time, the Commission is using computer models to predict the peak of the epidemic in each country in order to deliver the goods there in good time.

More: Manufacture of medical material: companies mobilize themselves. Read more here.

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Austria’s steps into normality after the lockdown

Vienna, Berlin Sebastian Kurz took off his face mask for a moment. The Austrian Chancellor also wants to show himself behind the man-sized glass window as much as possible. He has something important to announce: the gradual start-up of the economy in the corona crisis.

“Our goal is that on April 14, small shops up to 400 square meters as well as DIY superstores and garden centers are allowed to reopen,” says Kurz. “From May 1st, our goal is that all shops, shopping centers and hairdressers are allowed to open again.” Parts of the catering trade will not be able to open again until mid-May at the earliest.

A decision will be made at the end of April, Kurz announces. The head of government can hardly hold back his pride about the “new normal” in Austria when he appears at the Vienna Chancellery.

Austria is the first country in the European Union to reduce draconian measures for the economy in the fight against the corona virus. And Kurz would not be short if he did not use this opportunity for self-praise: “So far, we have weathered the crisis better than most other countries,” says the 33-year-old, who became chancellor at the beginning of the year. “As Austria, we are emerging from the crisis stronger and better than others,” confirms his green Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler almost word for word. The government in Vienna, which came into office in January, wants to sell the gradual easing in trade as a groundbreaking success.

Is Austria a good example for Germany? Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has always tried in recent weeks to prevent burgeoning exit debates. The Chancellor’s message: Given the increasing number of new infections, it was not time to talk about easing the measures against the corona pandemic. Some see it differently in their party.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Armin Laschet, who is aiming for the CDU leadership, wrote a long time ago: “The phrase that it is too early to think about an exit strategy is wrong.” to develop the return to social and public life “.

On Monday, Merkel held the first press conference at the Chancellery after the end of her two-week quarantine, which she had gone into after contacting an infected doctor. The Chancellor’s Corona tests were negative.

graphic

Merkel did not change her attitude that the announcement of a specific exit date would be counterproductive at the current time. Germany had made progress in the fight against the corona virus, but there was no all-clear, she made clear. The measures apply until at least April 19. “Nothing will change there,” said the Chancellor.

However, the federal and state governments have been working behind the scenes for some time to create the framework for a return to normal. We are looking for an overall concept in which the drastic restrictions can be gradually lifted and the pandemic can be controlled at the same time.

Much depends on increasing the number of intensive care beds and ventilation places in hospitals. The test capacities will also be expanded in order to isolate sick people more quickly. In addition, the contacts of the infected people must be easier to track. The health authorities should receive more staff for this. In addition, a Corona app for smartphones is being developed, with which contact persons of infected people could be identified.

A decision as to whether and when first steps from a state of emergency are possible could be made at the next federal-state round on Tuesday after Easter. Merkel said that health protection “will always be in the foreground, even if public life is opened up”. The health system should under no circumstances be overloaded by seriously ill corona patients.

The headline for the period after the shutdown will therefore be: “We continue to live in the pandemic.” With regard to the decision in Austria, Merkel said: “We have to use our own numbers.” The speed at which the virus in Germany spread out, is still too high.

Short press

Austria is more statistically affected by the corona virus than Germany. Nevertheless, according to the government there, the gradual opening of retail has become possible due to comparatively positive developments in the fight against viruses. “We managed to flatten the curve,” said Health Minister Rudi Anschober (Greens). Doubling the number of patients would have increased to 16.5 days.

According to his information, 187 new infections in the past 24 hours were compared to 465 recovered patients. There are currently 250 corona infected patients in intensive care units in Austrian hospitals. “This is only a first stage success. The trend of the past few weeks must continue this week as well, “Anschober said.

With his surprising move, Kurz responded not only to good numbers, but also to political pressure. In Austria, displeasure among many citizens and retailers has increased in recent days. They found the previous regulation, which only allowed supermarkets to be open, to be unfair.

The retail groups with their wide range of products also outside the food sector – from the bouquet of tulips to animal feed and DIY materials – have been doing excellent business in the corona crisis in recent weeks. The small specialist shops, but also garden centers and hardware stores saw themselves at a disadvantage.

In contrast to Germany, there are still numerous owner-operated specialist shops in cities like Vienna, Graz or Salzburg. Their owners belong to the classic clientele of the ruling party ÖVP.

The gradual ramp-up of trade is well received in the economy. “With the gradual relaxation of measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic announced today, the German government is sending a positive signal with regard to predictability, trust and confidence in people and companies,” said Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Rainer Will, managing director of the trade association. He emphasized: “This is a positive signal for our dealers in terms of predictability and a first important step towards new normality for consumers.”

Austria is also expanding the obligation to wear a mask. The wearing of face masks, which has only been mandatory since Monday when shopping at supermarkets over 400 square meters, is extended to local public transport. According to the Interior Ministry, those who do not wear a mask will be fined 50 euros. In practice, however, the requirement for a face mask does not work well in Austria.

Many supermarkets simply do not have breathing masks for the mouth and nose. “We will do everything we can to meet the requirements of the decree as quickly as possible, but with the best will on April 6, this cannot be implemented for all of our 2,550 locations with 40,000 employees,” said Marcel Haraszti, CEO of Rewe International AG, on Monday. Another problem is that the masks are not given free of charge as announced by the government. For example, Rewe charges one euro per mask.

Many customers meanwhile help themselves by pulling their scarf over parts of the face. Some supermarket visitors also wear self-made or purchased textile masks that are washable and therefore reusable.

The time of suffering will continue for the cultural sector in Austria. The government in Vienna banned all events on Monday until at least the end of June. A relief for the Austrian population is that the state gardens such as Schönbrunn Palace or Belvedere Palace in Vienna are opened again after Easter.
More: Austria’s finance minister Gernot Blümel: “Don’t use the corona crisis to implement yesterday’s proposals”. Read more here.

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Corona current: USA see “disinformation campaign” in protective masks

Australia asks visa holders to leave without savings

Australia wants to send foreigners home with temporary visas due to the economic consequences of the Corona crisis and the expected unemployment. Only those of the over two million foreigners who could finance their own living in the next six months are likely to remain, managing immigration minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.

According to the information, there are currently a good two million foreigners with different types of visas in Australia, including students, skilled workers and tourists. “Temporary visa holders who, in these circumstances, will not be able to finance themselves for the next six months are urged to return home,” Tudge said. The more than 200,000 tourists would also have to leave for their home countries as quickly as possible, especially those without financial support from families.

Around 118,000 backpackers are currently on the fifth continent. According to the information, a third of them are Germans who have a working holiday visa type, which permits work within a limited scope, but does not include any protection against unemployment, for example. These tourists could extend their visas if they worked in certain areas such as healthcare, elderly care, childcare, agriculture, or the food industry, Tudge said. The permitted working hours are also relaxed.

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Corona current: Politics is fighting over the disappearance of protective masks

WHO: Majority of corona deaths in Europe were over 60 years old

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 95 percent of people who died from coronavirus in Europe were over 60 years old. Recent statistics showed that 30,098 people were reported to have died in Europe, particularly in Italy, France and Spain, said Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe. More than half were over 80.

At the same time, Kluge warned against the assumption that Covid-19 only affects older people. Age is not the only risk factor that can favor a severe form of the virus, said Kluge. “The mere idea that Covid-19 only affects the elderly is factually wrong,” said Kluge at an online press conference in Copenhagen.

The statements were similar to those of WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. According to the WHO, 10 to 15 percent of people under the age of 50 with the lung disease have a moderate to severe form. “Serious cases of the disease have been seen in teenagers or their 20s, many of whom needed intensive care and some unfortunately died,” said Kluge.

More than 80 percent of fatal coronavirus cases would have had at least one chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. At the same time, there are reports of people over 100 who were hospitalized for Covid-19 and have now fully recovered.

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America’s All-Mine Doctrine is a sign of uncertainty

Donald Trump

The US President is fighting for his political survival through the corona crisis.

(Photo: AFP)

Anyone who would have predicted six months ago that respiratory masks would one day become the most sought-after product on the world market would have been laughed at. At best. But the corona crisis has changed the world. The pandemic is turning everything upside down, even Donald Trump’s America First policy.

So far, the US president has sought to close the United States’ huge trade deficit, limit imports, and promote exports. But now the strategy of export has become a strategy of maximizing imports.

Because Trump has denied the dangers of the new corona virus until it was too late, the US government is desperately trying to bring protective masks into the country. Every means seems to be right for that.

The USA is said to have intercepted 200,000 respirator masks from the US manufacturer 3M at Bangkok Airport in Thailand, which, according to the German description, were intended for the Berlin police. Berlin Mayor Michael Müller accuses Trump of “inhumane” and “unacceptable” behavior.

The White House rejects the allegations, but similar allegations come from France and Canada. In fact, the United States has activated a Korean War law that authorizes the government to interfere with US companies’ supply relationships. “As long as we don’t have too much,” the United States will not stop hoarding protective equipment, US media cite an American top official.

Trump is fighting for his position

With its panic purchases, the United States is not only beleaguering its closest allies. They also document the tragic loss of their moral authority. The All-Mine Doctrine is not an expression of power, but a sign of uncertainty.

Trump, the raven sock at the top of the state, is not concerned with such relationships. He is fighting for his political survival. America has become the epicenter of the pandemic because it failed to prepare the country for the wave of infections, instead mocking the warnings of experts as “fancies”. The virus and the thousands of deaths it claims in the United States will be linked to its name forever.

However, the outraged reactions of German politicians to the behavior of the US government are difficult to bear. Trump uses funds that Germany has also used. One of the first measures taken by the federal government in the corona crisis was to impose an export ban on medical protective equipment. Urgent requests from Italians to deliver relief supplies have been ignored by the federal government for far too long. The damage is great.

Mask nationalism offers no way out of the crisis, on the contrary, it makes it worse. A virus that knows no borders is either contained by global cooperation. Or not.

More: The aid program for American medium-sized companies only starts off bumpy.

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Live: Government Provides Corona Situation – Coronavirus –


Vice Chancellor and Minister of Sport Kogler on “Sport in Corona Times”
© APA

Two government press conferences are scheduled for Saturday. At 10 a.m. on “Production of protective masks in Austria” and at 11.30 a.m. on the topic of “Sport in Corona times”.

Economics Minister Margarete Schramböck speaks from 10 a.m. on “Production of protective masks in Austria”. Vice Chancellor and Minister of Sport Kogler will provide information on “Sport in Corona times” from 11.30 a.m.

Both press conferences are broadcast continuously in the same livestream from the beginning of the first PK to the end of the second PK.

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All current information about the corona virus in the special

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