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10 Mar 2020 | 04:34 AM UTC

Germany: First COVID-19 fatalities reported March 9 /update 9

Health officials confirm the two first COVID-19 deaths in North Rhine-Westphalia state on March 9; further spread of the virus expected in the near term

health
transportation
DEU

Event

Health authorities confirmed the first two coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fatalities in North Rhine-Westphalia state on Monday, March 9. The patients, an 89-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, died in the city of Essen and the district of Heinsberg respectively. As of Tuesday, March 10, 1224 COVID-19 have been confirmed nationwide.

On Thursday, March 5, Lufthansa announced that it would suspend all flights to Israel starting on Sunday, March 8, until Saturday, March 28. This announcement came after Israel's Ministry of Health announced new self-quarantine measures for travelers arriving from Germany, France, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland on Wednesday, March 4. Foreign tourists who cannot prove they have arranged quarantine measures prior to arrival will not be allowed to enter the country.

Lufthansa has also canceled 7100 European flights for the month of March due to decreased demand. Cancelations will affect domestic flights as well as flights to other European destinations, particularly Italy.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

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 February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

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

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 non-essential 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 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue; 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.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.