Easter: Please stay inside

Easter: Please stay inside

© Larry Washburn / plainpicture
The more consistently we stay at home over Easter, the better. So maybe just sleep in really long.

Great Easter weather and the current Corona numbers don’t look bad either. Now the rule is: don’t be careless. The next ten days are crucial.

It could be so nice. Easter is almost there, and there seems to be more good news: The curve that shows the number of newly infected people in Germany seems to be slowly but surely becoming flatter. That would mean that the number of people who become infected with Sars-CoV-2 is no longer growing.

Can everyone get out at Easter now? Absolutely no way. The nice weather and the many days off could jeopardize the positive development if people meet in large groups outside or inside in the coming days despite continuing to block contacts.

That’s what the new studies say

Social distancing is obviously worth it. A model calculation by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization comes to the conclusion that the number of corona cases has been growing significantly more slowly since last week. “We see a clear effect of the contact block on March 22nd, and of course the contribution of every single person,” says Viola Priesemann, who heads a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in GOttingen.

The decisive factor is the number of people infected on average by an infected person, the so-called reproductive number R. If no measures are taken, then that virus can spread without restrictions, then the number is around two to three people – according to researchers. And because each of these people passes the virus on to other people, the number is getting bigger and bigger – it is growing exponentially.

This process is only interrupted when an infected person infects just another person on average, and the number of people who are currently ill does not increase further. This is exactly the point that seems to have been reached in Germany, the study by the Max Planck Institute shows.

The next ten days are crucial

A research group from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimates that the number of reproductions has also dropped below one in neighboring European countries, such as Italy or Norway. Even if that’s good news: R less than one alone is not enough to control the epidemic. Only when the number of new infections is so small that it is again possible to consistently track individual cases and isolate all contact persons, it makes sense to relax the restrictions.

Despite the good news, this means that social isolation is not over. “If the restrictions are lifted now, we will be right at the beginning,” says Priesemann. For Easter this means that if everyone were to sit with the extended family over coffee and cake, celebrate the Easter Mass in the church or sit in the park with their friends at home on Sundays, the number of cases could quickly increase again. “I find it very encouraging that with a severe limitation that will continue over the next ten days, we could push the new infections back so far that we can continue with caution, but hopefully with significantly fewer restrictions,” said Priesemann. So the more consistently everyone stays at home over Easter, the faster this point could be reached.

Jumps after the weekend are normal – and can also be expected for the long Easter weekend

This also applies to the time after Easter, even if the figures for the long Easter weekend will be particularly positive. You can even expect that.

Especially on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, the number of people infected has dropped significantly in the past few weeks.

The reason: until a test result appears in the statistics, many people are involved. The doctor who takes the smear, the laboratory that examines the sample, and the authority that reports the result and then communicates it to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). If only one of the participants does not pass on the result directly, for example because he does not work on Sunday, there are delays in the statistics. This is made up for during the week – and this is also evident in the curve.

A similar effect could appear on the long Easter weekend. If the number of new infections falls particularly sharply over the holidays, this could also be due to delays in the reporting chain. We can only assess whether more people have contracted the disease after the holidays, when the latest results are available.

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