Berlin For weeks, the federal government has been trying to introduce a corona app for tracking infected and infected people. But the initial enthusiasm for digital support in the virus crisis has given way to a struggle for technical solutions, European cooperation and influence. And not only that.
A digital virus defense is viewed with skepticism in the population. At least that is what the current ZDF Politbarometer suggests. An app for smartphones that provides information on contact with a corona infected person without access to personal data would therefore only be used by 47 percent of all respondents. 42 percent state that they do not want to use such an app (do not have a smartphone: 8 percent). The supporters of CDU / CSU (55 percent), FDP (53 percent) and Greens (53 percent) are more open-minded here, but most AfD supporters (70 percent) are against it.
In order for the app to serve its purpose, as many people as possible need to install it. The developers assume that at least 60 percent of the population should have the app in order to actually achieve sustainable success. Germany’s top consumer advocate outlines how this can be done. “In particular, it must be demonstrated that their use is suitable and necessary to achieve their goal,” said the head of the Federal Consumer Association (Klaus VZBV), Klaus Müller, the Handelsblatt.
The disadvantages associated with the measure should also be in proportion to the advantages. “Already by designing the system, a strict earmarking must be guaranteed and the scope of data processing must be reduced to a necessary minimum.” This also means that the data must be anonymized and deleted as early as possible.
Müller also asked for a corona app to be used for a limited time. The measure should “only take so long until its purpose was fulfilled,” said the VZBV boss. The entire process had to be carried out with “the greatest possible transparency”. “This creates trust in data processing,” says Müller. It is also crucial for acceptance that the use of an app is and remains voluntary.
Spahn defends central storage approach
The development of an app is overshadowed by a dispute over the ideal data protection concept. While the platform initiative Pepp-PT pursues a central solution in Germany – i.e. a comparison of the data via a centrally managed server, the decentralized project DP-3T trailer recently won, in which significantly more data has to be transmitted because the comparison of the information directly from Smartphone is made. Most recently, the Cispa-Helmholtz Center for IT Security withdrew from the Pepp-PT initiative by 300 scientists from eight countries.
The Ministry of Health argues that a central solution is important so that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and local health authorities have access to the data. He takes concerns about it very seriously, says Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) on Friday on ZDF. After all, it is about sensitive and personal data, about data security and the question of who has access to it.
However, the aim is that it should be possible to find contact persons for infected persons within “within hours”. That is one of the most important keys on the way to a new everyday life. “This basic belief that data that Apple and Google with American corporations are better protected than data that is also state-controlled on servers in Germany (…) I sometimes do not understand this belief, “said Spahn.
The federal government is meanwhile negotiating with the US company Apple about the requirements for a corona tracing app. It is about the company opening the interface to enable the use of an app, said deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Friday. “We need access to the interface,” emphasized Demmer. Apple and Google had announced that they would change this by May, which the Federal Government welcomed.
Great trust in Fraunhofer system
According to their own statements, both groups want to make their operating systems compatible for mobile phones in order to make the Corona apps successful. However, it had previously been said in the federal government that, unlike Google, there would be problems opening the interface at Apple.
The government spokeswoman confirmed the government’s preference for the app developed by the Robert Koch Institute and the Heinrich Hertz Institute, which provides for the central storage of anonymized health data for epidemiological evaluation. “The federal government has great confidence in the system that is currently being tested at Fraunhofer.” With a central app system, you have to trust a government agency. “With a decentralized system, you have to trust Apple and Google,” she added.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior pointed out that the RKI app is still pending an examination by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). “Then a decision has to be made in the overall assessment,” said a Interior Ministry spokesman. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the app.
More: Corona hero, miser or the new reckless? Read here how the world looks at Germany.
The Chancellor is in top form in times of corona crisis. Angela Merkel explains complicated population doubling rates and reproductive numbers. But she also knows everyday things. “They have to be washed or ironed regularly, put in the oven or in the microwave,” Merkel explains how to care for respiratory masks. “Even if that sounds a bit housewife, so to speak.”
The omniscient state – embodied in the chancellor. The subjects are explained life down to the smallest detail. With this self-image, Merkel takes “measures that have never existed in our country before”. Fundamental rights are restricted, the economy is pushed to the brink and then supported with unprecedented aid.
One of Merkel’s closest confidants, Peter Altmaier, is more than enthusiastic. “An uncle who brings something is better than an aunt who plays the piano”, the Federal Minister of Economics remembers of his childhood.
And what is brought along! If you add up everything the federal government now wants to offer to combat the corona crisis, you get a gigantic sum of at least 1.2 trillion euros. No other country in the world has raised so much money in relation to its economic strength.
Germany has a full 35 percent, far more than the EU average or the USA. Federal finance minister Olaf Scholz did not understate what he promised a few weeks ago: “It is not spilled, but padding.”
The increase in importance and power is unique. Never in the history of the Federal Republic has a government intervened so quickly and deeply in public life and thus in the economy. After the financial crisis, German government debt rose by 315 billion euros in one year. The value of the federal, state and local governments will be far exceeded in this crisis. “I am worried whether we will be able to return to normal economic policy,” says Lars Feld, Germany’s top economy.
The measures to protect health are understandable. But the question increasingly arises: what side effects do the multi-billion dollar rescue programs have? The free market is disturbed, competition is distorted, prices lose their signal strength.
“As much market as possible, as much state as necessary”, the famous words of former Federal Minister of Economics Karl Schiller lose their meaning every day.
There is a risk of higher prices, inefficient companies and loss of wealth. It is significant that more and more companies are turning to the Bundeskartellamt during the corona crisis in order to be exempted from cooperating with competitors. The new spirit of state economy speaks.
Spend as much as you can. The year 2020 will be disastrous. Kristalina Georgiewa (IMF chief)
Certainly, help for companies with no fault of their own must be provided. But with the flood of support funds, the risk of misallocation is high. Capital and labor are tied up in companies with below-average productivity, less investment and innovative strength.
A few weeks ago, after a parliamentary request from the FDP for possible support from zombie companies, the Federal Ministry of Finance had to admit that “necessary market processes of creative destruction are hindered”.
The concern is justified that the state is eating itself too deeply into the economy, throwing privacy and data protection partially overboard and that the influence on the market will not be reversed after the end of the crisis.
A look at history suggests little good. The federal government is still 25 years after the IPO Deutsche Telekom still the largest single shareholder.
Fundamentally, there is a problem that is known in the economy as moral hazard: companies and citizens behave irresponsibly or carelessly due to existing false incentives. The news of fraudsters sneaking up subsidies is increasing.
“The state is a lousy entrepreneur”
The appearances of Altmaier and Scholz are characterized by superlatives. At the federal press conference, they will be presenting the rescue packages worth billions to the public with great regularity. “This is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis,” said Altmaier in mid-March. “This is the bazooka, we’ll look for small arms later,” the Federal Minister of Finance said at the appearance.
The small arms that have now been added are quite large-caliber. Scholz announced a debt-financed supplementary budget of 156 billion euros. This includes an emergency fund with a volume of 50 billion euros, which is aimed at the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees.
The federal guarantee for the state bank KfW is increased by up to 450 billion euros. And then there is an Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) with a volume of 600 billion euros. The majority is earmarked for government guarantees to keep companies liquid.
100 billion euros are reserved for possible investments, i.e. partial nationalization of companies. The battered Lufthansa is already holding talks about state participation.
You can still hear Altmaier’s words: “The state is a lousy entrepreneur.” The Federal Minister of Economics at least dedicated the most beautiful hall in the ministry to Ludwig Erhard. But he is currently just as far away from Erhard’s mantra as the Germans are from summer leaves in Mallorca.
Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (standing) and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (front)
The father of the “German economic miracle” throbbed to measure, he remembered sentences, the state should not be a player, but an arbitrator in the economy. Now the state is preparing to take over the entire football club.
No other industrial country is helping its economy with such large sums as the Federal Republic. This shows a new evaluation by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He does not criticize Germany, on the contrary. “Spend as much as you can,” advises IMF chief Kristalina Georgiewa. The economic situation is too depressing.
The Council of Experts is now assuming that the economy will decline by more than 5.5 percent this year. This is the case that was previously treated as a worst-case scenario. The economic downturn would be worse than in the global financial crisis. 725,000 companies have registered financial difficulties and short-time work.
Including: hospitals. Health Minister Jens Spahn ordered them at the beginning of March to postpone all planned operations. For the hospital operator, this means severe revenue losses. More than a third of the intensive care beds are not occupied. With the Hospital Relief Act, the federal government created a regulation to compensate the clinics for the failures. But that’s far from enough.
This is the bazooka, we’ll look at small arms later. Olaf Scholz (Federal Minister of Finance)
Some private organizations have registered short-time work, including the Schön-Klinik group. The head of the German Hospital Society, Gerald Gaß, sees the time for a “careful, gradual resumption of regular care”.
Spahn also said last week that clinics could “gradually return to normal”. “We do not want to keep 40 percent of the intensive care ventilation beds in Germany permanently”, said the minister.
The pressure on the companies is huge, the need for help is great. This year alone, the federal government is raising 156 billion euros in new debt. The federal states are also preparing an extensive flood of money for pumps.
According to a survey by the Handelsblatt newspaper among the 16 state finance ministries, they are currently planning 65 billion euros in new debt to fight the crisis. In addition to the federal government’s huge € 1.2 trillion rescue package, the federal states are also helping their companies and the self-employed. Bavaria alone has launched a fund with 60 billion euros.
The IMF chief not only welcomes the gigantic aid package in Germany, the monetary fund also calls for thorough control. “Keep the bills,” said Georgiewa. Transparency and accountability should not be put off in the face of the crisis. Whether Germany is world champion in this discipline, doubts are increasing.
Risk zombie company
The financial crisis shaped a saying by the former head of central bank in Europe, Mario Draghi: “What ever it takes”. In this crisis, it becomes a “Whatever, take it!” Aid is mostly spent without checking, the money cannot be distributed quickly enough.
According to an overview by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economics, over 26 billion euros were applied for by KfW Hilfen. Almost 13,000 of the more than 13,200 applications were approved. In other words, almost anyone who wants help gets it, most likely companies that didn’t have a working business model before the pandemic.
This easily creates zombie companies that are only alive because of generous state aid. After all: With the large sums, the KfW steering committee seems to be examining it more closely. So far, around 8.5 billion euros have been approved. So it takes a little longer for the large-volume applications.
In contrast, the self-employed and small businesses with up to ten employees are suspiciously fast. So far, according to the overview of 1.65 million applications, around 1.1 million have been approved and more than nine billion euros paid out. These are not loans, but aid that does not have to be repaid.
“Speed and thoroughness go hand in hand: it is carefully checked who receives the money,” Finance Minister Scholz promised. But is that true? North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin were even recently forced to suspend immediate payments because large-scale fraudsters wanted to get to the pots.
There are also problems with honest entrepreneurs. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the self-employed and small businesses are always granted the maximum amounts of EUR 9,000 and EUR 15,000 – regardless of need. This practice is not well understood in the Federal Ministry of Economics. Because a flat-rate payment of maximum amounts was actually not intended.
The aid should amount to up to 9,000 euros for companies with up to five employees and up to 15,000 euros for up to ten employees. The emphasis here is on the “up to”. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the actual amount should be based on sales and operating expenses for the next three months. An entrepreneur with zero euros turnover and 1000 euros costs would be entitled to 3000 euros in emergency aid.
But these details were lost somewhere in the confusion between the federal states and the federal states. The up to 50 billion euros are provided by the federal government. Although federal money is at stake, it is up to the federal states how much they scrutinize companies. In Hamburg, for example, a liquidity check is required. Other countries are significantly less strict so that aid can flow as quickly as possible.
In Berlin, more than a billion euros were paid out to solo and small entrepreneurs within days. And the Berlin Senate also admits behind the scenes that surely there are also deadweight effects. Since no examination was carried out, almost everyone received 14,000 euros in a combination of federal and state funds. These include the self-employed, who normally have annual sales that are significantly lower, they say.
Some recipients are now voluntarily repaying the aid for fear of sanctions. But whether a subsequent thorough examination is possible to convince fraudsters is skeptical in financial management.
Dangerous false incentives
The economic nonsense, which is operated partly in the name of Corona, is great. Governments in the federal and state governments are increasingly creating the illusion that they can regulate everything with state trillions. And more and more, government intervention and expansion is creating false incentives in all areas of the economy, which can be revenged bitterly.
Take the housing market as an example: the Federal Minister of Justice, a woman from the SPD, wanted to protect the tenants. The result is a half-baked law that gets small landlords into trouble. The law was so badly made that solvent companies like Adidas or Deichmann used the gaps and simply suspended the rent payments. Only after a storm of indignation did Adidas row back.
Take the example of KfW loans: After the institutes hesitated to pass on the subsidized loans from the Staatsbank KfW to companies because they still had to bear ten percent of the default risk, the state assumed full liability. With the danger that house banks will now be able to provide loans to companies that have long been bankrupt.
The banks don’t care, they are released from any liability, but of course they still make good money from their business. The fool is the taxpayer who has to answer for the defaults.
Example of short-time work: Short-time work allowance is a tried and tested crisis instrument. The state replaces up to 67 percent of net wages. However, the SPD was not enough. In the coalition committee on Wednesday, she pushed for an increase to 80 percent.
It is the most comprehensive and effective guarantee that there has ever been in a crisis. Peter Altmaier (Federal Minister of Economics)
However, a general increase would have significant deadweight effects: Many companies are already increasing short-time benefits from their own resources. Apart from that, the short-time work allowance is not meant to secure the standard of living, but rather to ensure the survival of companies and thus avoid unemployment.
In other areas, the federal corona strategy is rather arbitrary. The craft complained that the vehicle registration offices were closed. There is also much discussion about opening shops up to the limit of 800 square meters. This border was communicated at least improperly and caused confusion and indignation among the shopkeepers.
Now a Hamburg administrative court has declared the 800 square meter rule to be illegal. The court could not understand why opening larger sales areas alone should attract more people to the city center. Necessary infection protection measures could be followed at least as well in larger stores as in smaller facilities.
Whimsical and impractical was initially the requirement that repair shops were allowed to remain open, but the sales rooms had to be closed. Many craftsmen wondered if they could lead the customers through the sales room into the workshop. Another detail from this series of undesirable side effects of the rescue policy.
The border closures, for example with the Czech Republic, mean that the bricklayers are missing in the construction industry and the harvest workers in agriculture from Romania. The state decides a lot, but the consequences are borne by the entrepreneurs and their employees.
The argument for the state’s rapid generosity in the crisis is: rather spend more now to prevent the economy from crashing and millions of jobs be lost than have to finance mass unemployment for a long time. This approach is absolutely correct. But it also remains true: somehow the state rescue billions have to be financed at least in the medium term if the next generations are not to be overwhelmed.
Currently this is done through the use of reserves and debts. Germany certainly has scope. The Federal Republic had just pushed the debt level to below 60 percent, thereby meeting the Maastricht criteria for the first time in many years in 2019. But that will be the last time for a long time.
As a result of the corona crisis, the federal government expects a general government deficit of 7.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year. The debt ratio as a share of all debts in GDP is estimated at 75.25 percent, as can be seen from the German Stability Program 2020.
“The projection is currently subject to very high levels of uncertainty,” says the current report. In other words, the debt level could be even higher. This mainly depends on how high the losses are that the federal government will incur from its guarantees and sureties.
Given the huge commitments, some in the grand coalition are trying to put the brakes on. “I don’t like the fact that we almost always get new suggestions every hour, what else can you do,” said Union leader Ralph Brinkhaus. “All of this must also be paid for.”
In a crisis, the state’s money is loose. Some sense their chance to finally implement long-held plans.
Berlin The chaos around the planned Corona warning app seems to have cleared up. As the CDU digital politician Tankred Schipanski told the Handelsblatt, the Federal Ministry of Health from department head Jens Spahn (CDU) has now opted for the software framework of the Pepp-PT initiative.
Accordingly, the ministry informed the Bundestag’s digital committee on Wednesday that it had examined three possible technical platforms and then decided on Pepp-pt. The future mobile phone app for monitoring infections in the coronavirus pandemic is to dock on the technological platform developed by over 130 scientists.
“We are on the right track with the Corona app,” Schipanski told Handelsblatt. In close exchange with the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Ulrich Kelber, the Cybersecurity Authority BSI and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is developing an app based on Pepp-PT technology.
The ministry’s decision is remarkable. Because the Pepp-PT project had been heavily criticized in the past few days because of its data protection concept. Around 300 experts signed an open letter warning of the risk of surveillance and misuse if data were stored centrally. The majority of them support the DP-3T concept, which provides for the decentralized storage of data on smartphones.
The Ministry of Health now prefers central storage of user data when developing the planned warning app, as a ministry spokesman said in Berlin on Wednesday. According to the Reuters news agency in the digital committee it was argued that otherwise decentralized storage on the cell phones would have to ask the US companies Google and Apple to disclose data. But that is not in the sense of an effective pandemic control.
The Greens faction leader Konstantin von Notz accused the Spahn of a lurching course when deciding on the app standard. “While it was emphasized on Tuesday that various approaches to data storage, both central and decentralized, were being examined, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health was quoted in the press shortly after the end of the meetings of the relevant Bundestag committees, saying that one preferred central storage of user data,” said von Notz to the Handelsblatt. “The Federal Government’s action is not only fatal for the acceptance of an app solution, it also shows a lack of respect for the parliament.”
Warning of “technological beauty contest”
Schipanski, however, emphasized that the effectiveness of the app in combating the pandemic is paramount. “The fact that data is stored centrally is not a legal or political obstacle,” said the CDU politician. “What matters to me is not so much a technological beauty contest, but more that the app makes an effective contribution to overcoming the crisis.”
The CDU health politician Tino Sorge advised to be more “pragmatic” when weighing up legal interests. Of course, data protection is justified. “But it is also about protecting public health, maintaining our everyday life and preserving our economic prosperity,” the Bundestag member told the Handelsblatt.
“It can not be too much for individuals to participate in a protected way in a Corona app.” After all, the app is not about personal data or even location histories, but only about pseudonymized data.
Sorge stressed the broad benefits for the digital fight against the virus. “Using the app and using pseudonymised data, the risk of infection and infection chains can be understood much better and faster than the health authorities will ever be able to do with the laborious telephone calls,” said. “We shouldn’t waste this opportunity – especially not as long as we don’t have a vaccine yet.”
The CDU politician Schipanski now expects in particular from the US group Applethat this opens its interfaces so that the app also works on the IOS system. According to the Ministry of Health, the authorities are currently using Apple, but also Apple Google Discussions about “how to design the interface and where the data is stored”.
One problem at the moment is that Apple has so far refused to open the interface for the app. However, this is seen as a prerequisite for the most extensive, if voluntary, use of the app. The Chancellery should now also engage in talks with the US company. Google is ready to open its interface. Together, the two US companies equip more than 90 percent of all smartphones with their operating systems.
App should be ready at the end of May
A Corona warning app would be installed on the smartphone. It can send an anonymized warning – if possible confirmed by the Ministry of Health – to people who have had contact with infected people. This would work via data exchange between the cell phones of people who use the app. A European exchange mechanism that protects privacy already exists for this. The broadest possible use of a warning app could make it easier to track corona infection chains – also because targeted contacts would then be tested.
In March it was still expected that a corresponding app, which is recommended by the federal government, would be available after the Easter holidays. Günther Krings (CDU), State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is said to have mentioned Wednesday at the end of May as a possible date in the interior committee of the Bundestag, according to participants.
The authority of the federal data protection officer Kelber and the BSI should then have five days to check the app. The authorities are constantly informed about the development. In addition, the app should be made a requirement in certain areas, such as in particularly relevant companies.
The Greens politician from Notz was disappointed. “After weeks of highly contradicting statements, expectations for today were high,” said von Notz. “The Federal Government not only did not take advantage of this opportunity, but continued to get caught up in highly contradictory statements.” On Tuesday, the Federal Government still stated that it wanted a purely voluntary solution, “this clear commitment is already obsolete”, criticized von Notz Look at what Krings said.
On Tuesday, the federal government emphasized that it was only considering using the corona tracking app on a voluntary basis. Models and digital applications would have to meet the requirements of data protection law, for which data processing is based on consent. No location data should be collected either.
More: Read here why the dispute over the Corona warning app is alarming the digital associations.
Berlin The Helmholtz Institute for Information Security (Cispa) has withdrawn from the European Corona app project Pepp-pt. This was shared by one of the scientists involved, the computer science professor Cas Cremers Twitter With.
Cremers from the Helmholtz Institute advocates decentralized storage for data protection reasons. “CISPA has withdrawn from the Pepp-pt program,” the scientist writes on Twitter. “We will continue our work on DP-3T, a decentralized, open source system for identifying contacts based on Privacy by Design.”
CISPA has withdrawn from PEPP-PT. We will continue our work on # DP3T, a decentralized, open source framework for contact tracing based on privacy by design #CoronaApp. DP-3T alphas are public for testing and feedback.https://t.co/TCyUfa9b0i
Scientists from several European countries – including Germany – are working on the DP-3T technology behind the Decentralized Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (DP-3T). The main point is that the information about contacts is stored decentrally – i.e. only on the smartphone itself. If a user tested positive, this information would be distributed to all other telephones over the network. These then automatically determine whether they were previously nearby.
With the central approach Pepp-pt, the list of risk contacts would be uploaded from the infected person to a central server as soon as they tested positive for the virus. This calculates the risk of infection and notifies the risk contact persons. The concern here is that central data storage could enable the pseudonymized data to be re-identified.
Chris Boos, co-founder of the Pan European Privacy-Protecting Proximity Tracing (Pepp-pt) platform, said it was working on both solutions. Ultimately, each country should be able to decide for itself.
Pepp-pt is backed by more than 130 scientists and IT experts. Your goal is to create a software framework to which national applications can dock. App developers are expected to integrate the technology, which uses Bluetooth technology to identify cell phones of people with whom an infected person has had contact.
The Swiss epidemiologist Marcel Salathé had already announced his withdrawal from Pepp-pt on Friday. On Twitter, he wrote: “Although I firmly believe in the core ideas (international, privacy protection), I cannot stand behind something that I do not know what it stands for.” Currently, Pepp-pt is “not open and not transparent enough, ”said the professor at the Polytechnic University of Lausanne.
I am personally disassociating from PEPP-PT. While I do believe strongly in the core ideas (international, privacy-preserving), I can’t stand behind something I don’t know what it stands for. Right now, PEPP-PT is not open enough, and it is not transparent enough. 1/3
It will take weeks before the planned cell phone app can be used to contain the corona virus in Germany. According to Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), the app should be able to be used “in the course of May”. “Especially when it comes to data protection and data security, it must be as perfect as possible before we start,” said Spahn on ZDF.
More: Read more details about the dispute in the development of the Corona app here.
Health Minister Spahn sees success in the fight against the corona virus. But he warns: Easter could become a “fork in the road”. RKI boss Wieler is also alarmed. The number of new infections remains at a “high level”.
Dhe number of people newly infected with the corona virus in Germany is still at a “high level”, according to the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler. “You can not really expect a relaxation,” said Wieler on Thursday in the federal press conference. Those affected would have an average age of 49 years.
The number of deaths has risen “continuously” in the past few days. This is due to the fact that more and more older people would become infected – also due to corona outbreaks in retirement and nursing homes. The average age of the deceased is 80 years.
The RKI now wants to start large nationwide antibody studies on the spread of the coronavirus. This is to determine how many people have already had an infection and are now immune to the virus at least for a certain time.
It is examined whether antibodies against Sars-CoV-2 can be detected in the blood of the study participants, which is a reliable indication of a past infection. “From these studies, we expect a more precise picture of the Sars CoV 2 events in Germany,” said RKI President Wieler.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) warned against the current figures against being “careless” when dealing with the corona virus. At the federal press conference, Spahn said that the measures currently in force had an effect: “The number of newly reported infections is flattening out.” There is now a “linear increase”, with almost 110,000 infected people now showing more than 50,000 healthy people.
Spahn sees Easter as a “fork in the road”
If people started to meet in groups again, these successes would be jeopardized. “Yes, we want to gradually return to reality. But we are far from an everyday life as we knew it before Corona, ”said Spahn. Easter is a “fork in the road”, at which it is decided how long the requirements should continue to apply.
In addition to the absolute figures, Spahn emphasized the importance of the key figure R0 for assessing the situation. The basic reproductive number R0 indicates how many people are infected by the average. “We were at five to seven, we are now there that someone infects another one,” said Spahn. The “question of absolute numbers” also “naturally has consequences for the health system because ten to twelve percent need clinical treatment”.
Forty percent of the intensive care beds in Germany are currently free. Germany has therefore started admitting and treating patients from neighboring countries.
Spahn assumes that the distance rules against the spread of the coronavirus must be adhered to for a long time. The CDU politician said that regardless of what happened after Easter, the minimum distance of 1.5 meters and the hygiene regulations remained. In particular, he called the regular disinfection or washing of the hands, not to touch each other’s face and to refrain from shaking hands and kissing as a greeting. “It will definitely be something that will accompany us in our everyday life for many, many months,” said Spahn.
According to the RKI, 2107 people have died in Germany as a result of infection with the coronavirus. That is 246 more than the previous day. In the meantime, 108,202 cases of infection have been confirmed, 4974 more than the day before. The RKI does not initially tell how many people have recovered within 24 hours. Most recently, it reported that 7,561 patients were healthy again.
HErr Watzke, in your live interview with NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet in the sports show, you sounded little sympathetic and in solidarity. You were criticized as an empathetic, commercial-driven football technocrat because, among other things, you pointed to the competitive situation among the league clubs. Would you repeat your appearance in this form?
Watzke: I took another close look at this program.
“This is not a time for amateurs, but a time for professionals”
| Reading time: 3 minutes
Health Minister Jens Spahn does not think that the peak of the coronavirus crisis in Germany has already been reached. RKI boss Wieler announces a change in the execution of Covid 19 tests.
BMinister of Health Jens Spahn anticipates that burdens for hospitals and medical practices in the corona crisis will continue to rise. “It is still the calm before the storm,” said the CDU politician on Thursday at a joint press conference with doctors. “Nobody can say exactly what will come in the next few weeks.” It is therefore still necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus and at the same time to increase the capacities in the clinics with intensive care beds.
Politicians are also concerned with concepts that there will be “a time after Corona” in which the virus will continue to be fought, but public life will gradually normalize. This should also be the subject of discussions after Easter between the Federal Government and the Prime Minister. Spahn made it clear that it should also be discussed how cell phone data should be used to clarify infection chains in the event of a crisis – in order to isolate all contacts from infected people at home.
Chancellor-in-chief Helge Braun had already indicated on Wednesday that existing contact restrictions would initially be relaxed for younger, less vulnerable people. “First of all, the slowdown in virus spreading must succeed by Easter,” says Spahn.
At the joint press conference, Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), emphasized that the current crisis was “not time for amateurists” but “time for professionals”.
Tests only with medical indication
Germany is well equipped with the test capacities, but in the future it would make sense to only test people with the corresponding symptoms on Covid-19 – although many cases are asymptomatic.
In Germany, over 400,000 tests for the corona virus have already been carried out in the past two and a half weeks – almost four times the tests in Great Britain, added Andreas Gassen, CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. However, the entire population could not be “tested”.
In future, therefore, only the medical indication for a test will be relevant – not the patient’s wish. The test capacities had to be handled “gently and sensibly” because there was worldwide demand. Jens Spahn asked the population for understanding.
Recruit medical students and staff on parental leave
Germany currently has around 28,000 intensive care beds – significantly more than Italy and Great Britain. When treating Covid 19 patients, it is not only the number of such beds that is important, but also sufficient staff, Susanne Herold from the University Hospital Gießen emphasized.
For this reason, medical students are currently being recruited and trained on ventilators to increase the staffing levels in German clinics. Doctors and nurses on parental leave are also brought back into service.
“No one in Germany needs to be afraid that decisions about life or death will be made with thumbs up and down,” added Uwe Janssens, President of the German Association for Intensive Care Medicine. In exceptional cases, it would be decided not only by age, but based on various other criteria which patients would still be treated and which would not. According to the current status and in view of countermeasures taken in Germany, it is not to be expected that this will be necessary at all, i.e. that we will have a situation like that in Italy.
“We have intensive capacities in Germany and a number of staff like few other countries,” concluded Health Minister Spahn.
The Federal Minister of Health is to control the fight against corona centrally.
Berlin The federal states are responsible for epidemics, as regulated in the Infection Protection Act. In the fight against the corona virus, German federalism has repeatedly proven to be a disruptive factor. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is now planning to provide the federal government with more options for intervention in the case of dangerous infectious diseases and to partially disempower the federal states.
In the coming week, the Bundestag and Bundesrat could pass a “Law to protect the population in an epidemic situation of national importance”. On Saturday, Spahn provided formulation help for the draft law, which is available to the Handelsblatt. The project is also a topic in the federal cabinet on Monday.
“The current outbreak of the disease COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 shows that the functioning of the community can be seriously jeopardized in an emergency under epidemic law,” says the document. “In a dynamically developing outbreak situation, public health throughout Germany can face a significant risk from a communicable disease that spreads across borders, which can only be countered to a limited extent at the state level.”
The federal government must be able to intervene quickly to prevent the entire health system from destabilizing. Among other things, the Ministry of Health is to be empowered to issue regulations for cross-border travel, for example if reporting requirements are to be introduced in rail and bus traffic.
In addition, the ministry should centrally control the supply of medicines and protective equipment. In the event of staff shortages, doctors or nurses could be forced to recruit to fight an epidemic.
The new regulations are about bundling competencies, said Spahn of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, which had first reported on the plans. “And more importantly, in a situation like this we will be able to work within hours for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and everyone else who goes beyond the normal level, takes away bureaucracy, adjusts the rules, increases remuneration.”
“Epidemic situation of national importance” as a prerequisite
An “epidemic situation of national scope” is a prerequisite for federal intervention. According to the draft reform, this means that “either the World Health Organization has identified an international health emergency and threatens to introduce serious communicable diseases into the Federal Republic of Germany, or that, regardless of what the World Health Organization has determined, such diseases spread across the area threatens more than one country. “
Spahn received support from the health policy spokeswoman for the Union faction in the Bundestag, Karin Maag (CDU). “Given the sometimes very hesitant trade in some countries and the very inconsistent implementation of the previous recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Health, a limited pooling of expertise makes sense and is correct,” Maag told Handelsblatt. “I want to move away from the patchwork to uniform rights and obligations for all of Germany.”
However, the draft from Spahn’s house does not address the problem of the different paths that the federal states have taken in the past few weeks with school closings, the ban on major events and curfews. The sovereignty remains with the respective state governments.
More: The federal government plans to provide more than half a trillion euros for companies. This emerges from the draft law for the corona rescue package.
In the coming week, the health minister wants to bring stricter rules for infection protection through the federal cabinet, the federal council and the Bundestag.
Frankfurt The Ministry of Health wants to support clinics in the corona crisis with compensation payments in the billions. This emerges from a bill by the Federal Ministry of Health, which is due to go to the cabinet on Monday and which is available to the Handelsblatt in advance. According to the ministry’s preliminary calculations, the aid package for clinics is expected to include around 3.3 billion euros.
Failures are to be compensated for by postponing or suspending scheduled recordings, interventions or operations. In addition, clinics should receive bonuses for the provision of additional intensive care beds – according to the draft, 30,000 euros are planned for each additional intensive care bed created. There are currently around 28,000 intensive care beds in Germany.
There is massive criticism of the design from the German Hospital Society. “The entire design is a disaster for the hospitals and their employees. With this bill, we run the risk of hospitals going bankrupt in a few months, ”said Gerald Gass, President of the German Hospital Society (DKG).
On the one hand, according to the DKG, the funds for the vehemently required additional intensive care places are set far too low. The calculations of the hospitals for each additional intensive care bed were 85,000 euros, according to the DKG.
The company also criticizes the fact that not a single euro is provided for the high additional costs of personal protective equipment by employees. Here the hospitals assume a flat-rate additional expenditure of 160 euros per infected patient. According to the draft law, the umbrella organization of statutory health insurance companies is yet to negotiate with the hospital company about reimbursement of the additional costs for protective equipment.
“With the law that has become known today to compensate for the financial burdens on hospitals, the Federal Minister of Health is breaking the Chancellor’s promise of a comprehensive protective shield for hospitals,” said the DKG. “This will abandon those who face the greatest challenge and are most needed in the Corona crisis.”
Criticism of excessive bureaucracy
According to the draft law, the care fee for patients suffering from the coronavirus is to be increased temporarily. According to calculations by the Federal Ministry of Health, the clinics should have around 4.5 billion euros in additional nursing finance at their disposal. A major annoyance for the hospital company is the fact that these budgets have to be negotiated with the health insurance companies and the funds are only borrowed. In the coming year, the hospitals will have to repay these funds to the health insurance companies.
With this draft law, no hospital can be sure that it will survive the crisis unscathed, according to the DKG. There is no budget security, there is no safeguarding liquidity – and the burgeoning documentation and negotiation bureaucracy between cash registers and clinics is largely retained. “At the moment every clinic is recruiting men and mice to be ready for the care of the seriously ill.
During this time, we have much more important tasks than collecting receipts and preparing for individual invoicing with the health insurance companies after the crisis, ”said Gaß.
More: Spahn plans to access mobile data from Corona contacts.