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Coronavirus in Germany: ‘Children should not be cared for by grandparents’

As the coronavirus situation in Germany worsens, experts are advising parents to think about alternative childcare and for everyone to do some social distancing.

Coronavirus in Germany: 'Children should not be cared for by grandparents'
A sign telling people not to shake hands at a bank in Dortmund. Photo: DPA

As of Thursday afternoon, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany topped 2,300 – up from around 1,500 from Wednesday morning – and there have been four reported deaths.

Taking these growing numbers into account, the Robert Koch Institute urged for more “social distancing” in Germany, especially to protect the country's most vulnerable population: the elderly.

Breaking down demographics

The Robert Koch Institute analysed about 650 cases of those who've contracted the virus in more detail, reported German daily Welt on Thursday.

Through studying the cases, researchers found that 54 percent are male and 46 percent female. Among them there were 11 children under 5-years-old and another 14 children up to the age of 14.

A total of 547 people were between 15 and 59 years old, and 76 people were over the age of 60.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

RKI President Lothar Wieler said that 60 to 70 per cent of the population would become infected with the virus over a longer period of time.

'The mortality rate will rise rapidly'

And he said the country should unfortunately expect more deaths.

“Of course, more people will die in our country,” Wieler said. “Particularly when it comes to those over 65, the mortality rate will rise rapidly.”

Authorities and experts have therefore called on people in Germany to try and protect people in this age group.

“We must really protect the population above the retirement age,” said the director of the Institute of Virology at the Berlin Charité, Christian Drosten, at the beginning of the week.

He said families needed to look for solutions that would keep older people safe.

“From now until September or October, children should no longer go to grandma and grandpa for care,” he said.

READ ALSO: School closures and no partying: How coronavirus is affecting life in Germany

File photo shows a grandfather with his grandchild in Hanover. Photo: DPA

Keeping distance

Instead, he advised that families help out grandparents by getting their shopping for them so they were less at risk.

The RKI has also called on people in Germany to keep their distance from each other.

“Social distancing” is currently the most important measure, RKI Vice President Lars Schaade told journalists in Berlin.

“The point is to create distance between people.”

Even though numerous events have been cancelled, Schaade said everyone should consider if their social engagement is worth carrying out.

People should even consider when or if to visit a restaurant, he said. This also applies to meetings and bigger social gatherings.

“This is an appeal to personal responsibility,” said Schaade.

It echoes calls from both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Health Minister Jens Spahn earlier this week who said people in Germany needed to do their bit to protect vulnerable people by trying to limit the spread of the virus.

“Our solidarity, our reason and our hearts are already being put to the test, and I hope that we will pass this test,” said Merkel.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: What restrictions are there to daily life in Germany?

Vocabulary

Social distancing – (die) Soziale Distanzierung

Population – (die) Bevölkerung

Solidarity – (die) Solidarität

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COVID-19

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.

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