Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced that Germany will temporarily impose controls along its borders with France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Denmark as of 08:00 (local time) on Monday, March 16, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The restrictions will not impact German citizens re-entering the country and would also not be applied to commuters and goods traffic. According to Seehofer, 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.
Other measures have been implemented in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19. Schools and day-care centers have been shuttered, while public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. Additionally, all bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters and concert halls have been shut down in Berlin, Cologne, and Hamburg.
As of Sunday afternoon (local time), there have been 4838 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with 12 associated fatalities.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
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.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.