Germany reported its fourth death related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.
Health officials in Stuttgart said a 67-year-old man died in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. This is the first death outside of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state where the majority of cases have been reported.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Germany currently stands at 2,078.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on German citizens to adapt their routines in the wake of what the World Health Organization has now called a “global pandemic.”
“We need to change our daily lives — not gradually, but right now,” he said. “With everything we know today, we are looking at some very serious developments to come.”
He described the outbreak as a challenge “that we can and will overcome, thanks to our well-functioning health system.”
The elderly must act particularly carefully, German Social Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey said on Thursday.
“Older people, grandparents and their families should rethink their habits, for example by avoiding local public transport, stopping hugging people and not attending large public events,” she said.
The effects of a coronavirus infection have proven particularly severe for elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.
The eastern German city of Halle closed all schools and kindergartens, but some are concerned that closing schools can put grandparents who step in as caregivers under risk by putting them in contact with young children who may be infected.
“The surge is extremely quick,” Germany’s federal government agency for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, announced. On Wednesday Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that up to 70% of the population could become infected.
Merkel’s CDU party have canceled a conference scheduled for April 25 because of the outbreak, when Merkel’s successor as party leader was supposed to be elected.
The chancellor will hold a press conference on the developing crisis later on Thursday.
ed/sms (dpa, Reuters)