Nearly 10 million people in Germany could become infected with coronavirus within the next three months, if strict measures to stem its spread are not implemented, the country’s disease control agency warned on Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference in the capital Berlin, Lothar Wieler , head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said the government’s recent measures to limit social contact in public places, closure of all non-essential shops, bars and sport venues was extremely important to stem the spread of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
“If we don't succeed in effectively limiting social contact in the coming weeks, it is possible that we will have up to 10 million cases in Germany in the next two to three months,” he said, adding that such a development could lead to collapse of the country’s healthcare system.
He called on citizens to follow basic hygiene measures, refrain from social gatherings, keep at least 1.5 meters distance from others and stay at home except for the most essential reasons.
Germany is the third-worst-affected country by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe, after Italy and Spain.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country rose to 9,877 as of Wednesday morning.
The coronavirus death toll has reached to 26, according to statements by local health authorities.
Anadolu Agency website
Public Health England is working on an antibody test which will show who has had the novel coronavirus despite having no symptoms.
Research on the test is progressing quickly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday at a press conference in Downing Street.
“The great thing about having a test to see whether you’ve had it enough, is suddenly a green light goes on above your head and you can go back to work safe and confident in the knowledge that you are most unlikely to get it again,” Johnson said.
He added that the test would be a “game-changer” economically and socially.
The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said work at Public Health England on the antibody test is progressing "very fast" and they have valuable data on the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Dr. Jenny Harries said they will develop COVID-19 kits that can be used at home, which would alleviate the burden on public health workers.
According to National Health Service (NHS) data, COVID-19 has claimed 33 more lives in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 104. Confirmed cases have increased by 676 to a total of 2,526.
The government was following a controlled infection strategy with the goal of collective immunity but made some changes in the policy following criticism.
Johnson advised the public to refrain from unnecessary travel and social contact.
The government also decided to close schools until further notice.
Since first being detected in Wuhan, China in December, the novel coronavirus has claimed more than 7,870 lives globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
More than 194,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in at least 164 countries and territories, with Europe as its epicenter, according to the WHO.
Despite the rising number of cases, most people who get infected suffer mild symptoms and recover.
*Writing by Firdevs Bulut