Germany registers 3,000 new cases, 11 more deaths in one day

Berlin, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- The number of new infections of the novel coronavirus in Germany has increased to 13,957, a spike of almost 3,000 in less than 24 hours, while the death toll in the country stood at 31, health officials said on Friday, 11 more fatalities than the previous day.

Speaking at a press conference at the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention, RKI president Lothar Wieler warned of “exponential growth” of the virus and said that the current nationwide rate of infection stood at 17 out of every 100,000 people, although there were clear regional hotspots.

The state of North Rhine Westphalia, the industrial powerhouse of the country, and the wealthier southern ones of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria have registered 3,497, 2,746 and 2,401 cases respectively, according to figures published late Thursday.

“We are all in a crisis that is of a magnitude that I could never have imagined myself,” Wieler said.

Over 3,400 people have now died in Italy, more than the death toll in China (3,253) where the virus originated, while at least 1,000 people have died in Spain, according to data provided by John Hopkins University, which places the death toll worldwide at over 10,000.

More than 245,000 people have been infected around the globe, and at least 86,000 have made full recoveries.

Wieler warned that while the death toll in Germany was relatively low, the country was still at the start of the epidemic, “on the left hand side of a curve that is about to shoot up” to the right.

He advised that Germany had identified it was facing an epidemic early on and had quickly started carrying tests, but cautioned that hospitals “should be prepared” for the number of cases to increase significantly in the coming days or weeks.

Despite the impending health crisis, Germany has yet to take measures of the kind seen in Italy or Spain, where authorities have imposed nationwide lockdowns in a bid to slow the disease’s spread.

But Wieler insisted that a decision to impose a curfew must come from the state and local governments, pointing out that such imposing measures was “not our job” and such powers were beyond those of the federal government.

He urged people to adhere to the available scientific and medical advice, lamenting that some, especially young people, were not respecting the guidelines on social distancing and that others were still questioning the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak.

He reminded people that the virus would only be overcome if “everyone plays by the rules” of limiting social contacts.

In the absence of a decision on curfews from the federal government, Bavaria’s Minister President announced that he was “shutting down public life almost completely” starting Friday evening, with other regions sure to follow suit. EFE-EPA


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