Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

German Health Minister Jens Spahn speaks during a news conference in Berlin, on April 17, 2020.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak in Germany has become manageable again as the number of patients who have recovered has been higher than the number of new infections every day this week, the Health Minister said on Friday.

Germany has the fifth highest COVID-19 caseload behind the United States, Spain, Italy and France at nearly 134,000 but has kept fatalities down to a relatively low 3,868 thanks to early and extensive testing.

“The outbreak has – as of today – become controllable and manageable again,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told a news conference, adding that the health care system had “at no time been overwhelmed so far.”

Story continues below advertisement

Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, the federal agency responsible for disease control, said the virus reproduction or transmission rate in Germany had dropped below 1 – meaning one person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average.

“We see now that for the first time we are below 1. We will see whether that remains stable … There can be new infections any time,” Dr. Wieler said, stressing that too much emphasis should not be put on the transmission rate numbers.

“We have withstood a first wave very well, achieved through a joint effort by society, but that can change any time,” he told the news conference.

Underlining the authorities’ caution about the virus outbreak, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said: “We must develop a new normality that will accompany us for many months, and probably into next year.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday Germany would take small steps out of lockdown with the partial reopening of shops next week and schools from May 4.

The eastern state of Saxony said it was combining the relaxation of the lockdown rules with an obligation for people to wear masks on public transport and in shops – the first German state to introduce such a requirement.

Highlighting the impact of the pandemic on the German economy, Europe’s largest, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said it was “a situation that is more serious than anything we have experienced in the postwar period.”

Story continues below advertisement

The president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a research and medical regulatory body, told the Health Minister’s news conference that clinical testing of a vaccine would start soon in Germany. Four trials were already underway elsewhere, he added.

A coronavirus contact tracing app would be ready for Germans to download and use on their smartphones in three to four weeks, Mr. Spahn said.

German federal and state government leaders said on Wednesday they would support voluntary use of such an app, when available, so people can quickly learn when they have had been exposed to an infected person.

Developers are working hard on the app, which will use bluetooth technology, to make sure data protection standards are “as perfect as possible”, Mr. Spahn said.

“For it to be really good, it needs more like three to four weeks rather than two weeks,” he added.

Sources familiar with the matter say that the Robert Koch Institute’s contact tracing app is already ready and being tested, but its launch would be co-ordinated with Germany’s moves to ease restrictions on movement.

Story continues below advertisement

The app would run on top of a technology platform, called Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP), that is supporting similar app initiatives in other European countries including Italy.

The German authorities have been more cautious than some Asian countries in using digital technology to fight the coronavirus, restrained by Europe’s strict data privacy laws and mindful of public skepticism toward any surveillance reminiscent of Nazi– or communist-era rule.

Author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell discusses the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic on refugees, conflict and the economy. Gladwell was in conversation with Rudyard Griffiths from the Munk Debates. The Globe and Mail

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies