Coronavirus: fears grow for second outbreak in Germany

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Germany has seen a sudden and significant rise of coronavirus infections increasing fears of a second outbreak.

The news comes as the World Health Organisation reported its highest global daily rise in the disease with more than 183,000 people infected on Sunday.

Germany has experienced an alarming rise of the “R” virus reproduction rate, which has reached 2.88 after weeks of decline. In Britain the current R rate is between 0.7 and 0.9.

Concerns for a second wave in Europe are growing as Germany is seen as one of the countries that has tackled Covid-19 most effectively. While other major European countries such as France, Britain and Italy have each suffered high death tolls – about 30,000 or more – Germany’s has remained below 9,000. Early and effective lockdown measures as well as an efficient contact-tracing system had led to low infection rates.

But fears that Europe’s largest economy will have to go into a second lockdown have been raised after the Robert Koch Institute for public health in Germany said the rate had gone up from 1.06 on Friday, when 770 became infected, to 2.88 on Sunday. This means that for every 100 people infected another 288 are likely to have the virus passed on to them, too. To contain the illness, a figure of less than 1 is required.

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The sudden spike has in part been blamed on a disastrous outbreak at a meat processing factory in North Rhine-Westphalia. More than 1,300 employees at Tonnies meat factory have tested positive over the past week. Armin Laschet, the regional leader, told Die Welt newspaper that a nationwide lockdown could “not to be ruled out at the moment”. The number of contact-tracing teams in the local area will be increased from 32 on Monday.

Elsewhere in Germany outbreaks have been reported in hospitals and nursing homes, asylum seeker centres, among those harvesting crops and at religious and family gatherings. The country has counted 191,000 infections and 8,962 deaths from Covid-19.

In the past week the number of people currently suffering from the disease has increased by more than 1,000.

Germany’s worrying R rate rise comes just after Nato chiefs announced a new action plan to contain a potential second wave with a major stockpile of medicine and protective equipment.

With no vaccination likely until next year, the disease is continuing to ravage countries.

The leading virus expert, Professor Peter Piot of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told the BBC: “The good news is that in many countries including the UK, we’ve been able to bring down the spread. The bad news is that the virus has not gone away … It is spreading at an increased pace, particularly in the Americas.”

The greatest global tally came in Brazil on Sunday which saw 54,771 new infections, followed by the United States with 36,617. India reported 15,400 new cases.

Asked about the possibility of a second wave, Mr Piot said: “What is going to happen nearly certainly is a so-called second wave of outbreaks. I don’t think and I hope it is not going to be a tsunami. It won’t take us by surprise, we know much better what to do.”

Updated: June 22, 2020 03:02 PM

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