The curve continues to climb steeply

The curve continues to climb steeply

© Jonas Guttler / dpa
The epidemic would overwhelm the healthcare system unchecked – bed in the intensive care unit of the Prosper Hospital in Recklinghausen.

The number of coronavirus infections continues to grow far too quickly. Without countermeasures, the million mark would be exceeded in less than three weeks at this rate.

The curve continues to climb steeply

Bavarias Prime Minister Markus SOder justified the exit restrictions with the further dramatically increasing key figures of the corona pandemic. In fact, there has so far been no significant flattening of the curve in Germany. Both the number of infected people and those who died from Covid-19 continues to grow exponentially. By Friday afternoon there were more than 16,000 confirmed infections in Germany. Since the test capacities are still not sufficient, a large number of unreported cases must be added. The actual number of cases should be at least twice as high. More than 40 people in Germany have died as a result of the contagion of the coronavirus. The worldwide death toll passed the 10,000 mark on Friday.

To understand the enormous speed at which the virus spreads, a look at the doubling time helps. This value indicates the period in which the number of cases doubles. In the end, this value for Germany was always between two and three days. If the spread continues at this rate, the number of confirmed cases nationwide will rise to more than a million in less than three weeks. A collapse of the health system would be a matter of a few days in this scenario. Mortality among those infected is likely to increase significantly.

The pandemic is not raging equally everywhere in Germany. With 3107 confirmed cases, Bavaria had the third largest outbreak on Friday, after North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg. 15 people in Bavaria have died of Covid-19 so far. With a doubling time of just under four days, the spread in Bavaria is currently somewhat slower than the national average, but this can also be due to the recording of the cases. With the exception of Berlin, the east of the republic has so far been less affected by the corona virus than the west German states.

The mean incubation period is five to six days

Political decision-making is made more difficult by the fact that the measures taken only take longer to affect the data. The Robert Koch Institute specifies an average incubation period of five to six days for the coronavirus. So much time passes from the infection of a patient until he shows the first symptoms of the disease. Since no symptoms are usually tested without symptoms, new infections are included in the statistics at the earliest after this time. In addition, there is the duration of the test and data transmission. Until the diagnosis is made, the patient may infect other people. Only towards the end of those two weeks for which the Bavarian cabinet has now decided to restrict the exit will it be possible to see whether the measures are successful.

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But what should the numbers look like to justify a relaxation of the measures? Current scientific assessments assume that simply slowing down the pandemic is not enough. Accordingly, a slower increase in the number of cases would lead to a multiple overload of the intensive care units. That goes roughly from a published on Thursday Statement by the German Society for Epidemiology forth. Such a strong restriction of interpersonal contacts is necessary that the spread of the virus is not only slowed down, but stopped. Each infected person is likely to infect at most one other person on average. Currently, this value is two to three new infections per infected person. The cuts must therefore be “maintained over the next few months”.

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