Why the German coronavirus strategy might come back to pursue
Chancellor Angela Merkel takes off her face mask when she arrives at the national integration summit in Berlin on October 19, 2020.
FABRIZIO BENSCH | AFP | Getty Images
The German coronavirus epidemic and the strategy to fight the virus were not the same as in Europe.
This could be a good thing as Germany has recorded 397,922 cases of the virus, far fewer than Spain, which along with France now has over a million cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Far fewer coronavirus-related deaths have also been recorded, with the number standing at 9,905 and rising very slowly despite a second wave of infections in the rest of the continent. Germany has attributed its relatively milder experience with the pandemic to its modern healthcare system and robust testing and contact tracing system.
The country has also differed from its European counterparts on a political level in that it has been largely decentralized in managing the virus response.
However, according to Carsten Nickel, deputy research director at Teneo Intelligence, this approach could prove to be a double-edged sword when it comes to clear public leadership and reporting of the virus.
“The question is whether the strength of Germany since the beginning of the pandemic – not only the local imposition, but also the locally oriented design of restrictive and supportive measures – has become an obstacle,” said Nickel.
Chancellor Angela Merkel “strongly urged compliance at the weekend, but only clear nationwide news could prevent the need for stricter lockdowns in winter,” he warned.
When other national governments across Europe imposed restrictions ranging from national bans to localized action (albeit with the consent and sometimes reluctant acceptance of local leaders), Germany shifted management of the virus and restrictions to regional leaders in its 16 states.
This has led to the fact that in addition to national news like Merkel last weekend, in which all Germans are urged to avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings, as well as general rules for social distancing and the wearing of masks, there are also restrictions imposed by the state State are different.
The move is based on the respective infection rates in different federal states, some of which have large population groups. North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, has 17.9 million inhabitants and recorded the most registered cases per federal state with 94,883 cases.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, Germany recorded a 7-day incidence of 51.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Wednesday, while the 7-day incidence in Berlin, Bremen, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland is “considerably” higher than the national average 7-day incidence, said the public health authority, and “slightly higher” in Bavaria.
“Politically, Germany has done well with its traditionally decentralized approach. The local and regional authorities have agreed on joint pandemic management instead of Berlin imposing rules according to which the authorities have to act at a lower level,” said Nickel from Teneo Intelligence.
“Now, however, the question arises of how citizens across the country can be induced to adhere to an ideally simple and transparent set of rules, while at the same time leaving enough room to distinguish between more and less affected regions,” he said.
Negotiating regional rules between regional leaders and the national government can also be a delicate process. Nickel cited lengthy talks between Merkel and regional leaders last week to agree new restrictions, such as: B. Thresholds for private gatherings and restrictions on vacation travel from areas with higher infection rates.