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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Germany, a country that has been praised for its fast approach to the coronavirus pandemic, is already seeing a “second wave” of infections, the head of a major doctors’ union warned on Tuesday.
"We are already in a second, flat surge," Marburg Federation chairwoman Susanne Johna told Augsburger Allegemeine newspaper, and added that Germany’s hospitals were already prepared for another spike in infections.
Unlike in Germany’s initial approach to Covid-19, hospitals should not be kept vacant but should be freed up when needed, Ms Johna said.
There are about 21,000 intensive care beds in Germany of which 12,200 are currently free. On Monday there were about 270 coronavirus patients in intensive care, of whom 130 were on ventilators.
“Because the pandemic is slowly building up, we have to provide graduated treatment options for Covid-19 patients, so we have to introduce a staggered timing,” the union head said.
Germany has recorded more than 213,000 cases of Covid-19 and over 9,100 people have died from it there.
But the country has been lauded for its handling of the crisis, for quickly imposing a strict lockdown and its state-of-the-art track-and-trace system. It has seen significantly fewer deaths from the virus than other large European countries France, Italy, Spain and the UK.
But there has been growing unrest in major cities such as Berlin, where thousands have protested against draconian lockdown measures and having to wear masks in public.
Germany’s success at handling the virus may be undone in a second wave, the union leader warned.
"There is a danger that we will lose the successes that we have achieved in Germany so far in a combination of repression and longing for normality," Ms Johna said.
"We all long for normality. But we are in a state that is not normal."
As there was no current treatment for Covid-19, its spread must be curtailed, she said, and added that this could be done only through social distancing, hygiene, and constant mask use, as well as local quarantines if necessary.
"Many people in Germany have already died from coronavirus," Ms Johna said.
"It's not just a matter of life and death. Many people will be left with permanent damage. They will be limited in their everyday lives because their lungs or kidneys are no longer working so well. Incidentally, this also applies to younger patients."
Doctors in other European countries, including France and Italy, are preparing for a second wave scenario.
In Spain, parts of the Catalonia region have been placed back into lockdown after thousands of new cases had been reported there in recent weeks. In response, the UK said that anyone travelling to Britain from Spain will face 14 days in isolation.
Some regions in the north of England and in Scotland have gone into local lockdowns as well, where the infection rate has led to fears of a second spike. Researchers have warned that Britain must improve its Covid-19 tracing programme amid fears that a second wave of the virus could be twice as bad as the first.
Updated: August 5, 2020 05:10 PM
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