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23 Mar 2020 | 07:04 AM UTC

Germany: Authorities enact further measures due to COVID-19 March 22 /update 13

Government bans gatherings of more than two people and urges social distancing due to COVID-19 March 22; further spread of the virus expected over the near term

health
DEU

Event

On Sunday, March 22, authorities announced a ban on gatherings of more than two people to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). German citizens are also advised to reduce contact with people outside of their own household to a minimum, and keep a  distance of at least 1.5 metres (5 ft), preferably two meters (6.5 ft), between themselves and others in public. The restrictions are expected to  last for at least two weeks.

On Monday, March 16, the federal government and states have agreed to close non-essential shops and public spaces until further notice. This  includes restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, museums, and churches. Grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, post offices, and delivery services are excluded from the ban. Schools and day-care centers have also been closed.

Controls along Germany's borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Denmark remain in place as of Monday, March 23. The restrictions do not affect German citizens re-entering the country and also do not apply to commuters and goods traffic. Travelers "without a valid reason to travel" will be prohibited from entering or leaving the country. The directive will remain in effect until further notice.

The first lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was implemented in Mitterteich (Bavaria state) from Thursday, March 19, until Thursday, April 2. Individuals are only  allowed to leave their homes to go to work with special permission from employers, to shop for groceries, go to the pharmacy, doctor, or post office, or to provide help for people in need. Citizens can be fined and face up to two years of imprisonment if they violate the containment measures.

As of March 22, health officials have confirmed 21,463 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 67 related deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.