Germany may curb travel in select areas to combat coronavirus

Rakotzbrücke Germany

Helge Braun, who has coordinated Germany’s fight against the pandemic from the start, said the government is considering limiting travel in and out of areas that see a sudden, unexplained surge in Covid-19 cases.

“Our measures are appropriate to prevent a second big wave,” Braun told The Associated Press (AP) during an interview at the Chancellery in Berlin. “But this requires us to stay the course, not get careless in our measures, and maintain our respect for the virus.”

Germans have watched in horror as cases in the United States, Brazil and elsewhere surged long after Germany flattened its own curve of infections in April. The country of 83 million has reported slightly over 200,000 confirmed cases and 9,077 deaths from Cocid-19 since the start of the outbreak; the rate of new infections now averages about three per 100,000 inhabitants a week, the Associated Press said.

Braun attributed Germany’s relative success in part to swift action during the early stages of the pandemic.

As a trained emergency room doctor, the 47-year-old said he was aware of the risks if hospitals became overwhelmed with cases. “It was a great concern of mine to prevent such a situation,” Braun told the AP.

While other governments considered letting the virus sweep through the population to get the pandemic over with sooner, Germany never seriously toyed with the idea of ‘herd immunity.’

“Our conclusion was that unless one brings the infection under control very strongly, then it will tend to grow exponentially,” Braun said. “We discarded herd immunity as a political policy completely.”

Social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks in stores and on public transit, which have become an issue of contention in Germany and elsewhere, will likely remain compulsory for the coming months, Braun said.

“It’s a fact that the infections are so low precisely as a result of these measures,” he said. “That distancing was maintained, that there are hygiene plans, that masks are worn.”