Berlin sends ventilators to Spain, taking in patients from Italy, France

Berlin, Apr 3 (efe-epa).- Germany has sent 50 ventilators to Spain, the German Ministry of Health said Friday, while coronavirus patients from France and Italy continued to be brought to the country for treatment.

In a message written in Spanish on the Ministry’s official Twitter account, German health minister Jens Spahn pledged his nation’s support to those European countries that have been worst-affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“Especially during the coronavirus crisis, Europeans remain united. We send strength to the Spanish people at this difficult time,” Spahn said.

Since the coronavirus outbreak exploded in Europe last month, several southern countries, led by Italy and Spain, which have the two highest fatality rates from the virus in the world, have urged members of the European Union to provide greater financial protection and solidarity for nations that are more economically vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic.

They have also pleaded for logistical support and increased medical equipment that is crucial to help treat critically-ill patients, such as ventilators.

While Germany has so far not agreed to issuing so-called “corona bonds”, a proposed common debt instrument designed to allow financially-strapped nations tackle the pandemic more cheaply, the country has already taken some 120 patients from Italy and France to hospitals in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Saarland and Saxony, in addition to providing Spain with 50 ventilators.

While Germany has the fourth-most coronavirus cases in the world after passing China on Friday, where the outbreak began, and over 1,100 deaths according to the John Hopkins University, the epidemic in the country remains much less severe in terms of strain on its healthcare systems and the rate of fatalities, which is significantly lower than either Spain or Italy.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s center for disease control, has reported some 79,696 cases and 1,017 deaths, an increase of 145 in the past 24 hours. RKI’s figures tend to lag behind those of John Hopkins University due to differences in how the data is collated and reported.

But the overall rate of infection, crucial to gauging the true extent of the disease’s spread, has stabilized or slowed in every German state.

Meanwhile, chancellor Angela Merkel has returned from remote working in isolation at home for 14 days after she came into contact with a doctor who was confirmed to have been infected with coronavirus.

“The chancellor has physically resumed her work at the Chancellery,” said her spokesperson, Steffen Seibert.

Merkel, who continued to work remotely throughout her quarantine, had “successive” negative tests, Seibert said.

An opinion poll by Germany’s public broadcaster ARD published on Friday shows that the majority of citizens approve of the government’s handling of the crisis.

Some 63 percent said they were satisfied with the governing coalition, up 28 points compared to last month when the outbreak began. EFE-EPA


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