By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Case count/CFR

German health officials have reported more than 61,000 coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 cases to date, making it the country with the fifth highest number of cases (behind the US, Italy, China and Spain), Germany has not seen the high death rates reported by their European neighbors.

The death rate in Italy is around 11 percent nationally and an astounding 15 percent in the Lombardy region, while Spain has seen an approximate death rate of 8.4 percent to date.

However, Germany has reported only 490 deaths through March 29, giving them a 0.8 percent CFR.

Why the big difference? According to deputy spokeswoman of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Marieke Degen, “We don’t know the reason for the lower death rate.”

“We don’t do anything special compared to other countries,” German virologist Martin Stürmer said. “In general, we have a rather good intensive care situation in Germany,” Stürmer said. “We have highly specialized doctors and facilities, and maybe that’s part of the reason why our severely ill patients survive compared to those in other countries.”

I also addressed this issue with Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Amesh Adalja, MD on a recent Outbreak News Interviews podcast episode–LISTEN HERE

Hesse Finance Minister found dead

The body of a man identified as Thomas Schäfer, the finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found on a high-speed train line in the town of Hochheim between Frankfurt and Mainz, police confirmed Saturday. Police suspect Schäfer died by suicide.

State premier, Volker Bouffier said that Schäfer had been living under considerable worry and stress because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“His main concern was whether he could manage to fulfill the huge expectations of the population, especially in terms of financial aid,” Bouffier said on Sunday. “For him, there was clearly no way out. He was disappointed and so he had to leave us. That has shocked us, has shocked me.”

COVID-19 Hospital Relief Act

On Saturday, the Federal Council approved two legislative packages: the COVID-19 Hospital Relief Act and Law for the Protection of the Population in an Epidemic Situation of National Importance.

The former compensates for the economic consequences for hospitals and contracted doctors, while the latter improves the responsiveness to epidemics.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn said, “Everyone working in healthcare needs our full support right now. That is why we compensate for lost revenue, cut red tape and suspend sanctions. And we ensure that we can react faster in epidemic situations. We bundle competencies so that in a situation like this we will be able to work within hours for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and everyone else who goes beyond the normal level, takes away bureaucracy, adjusts the rules, increases remuneration.”

Robert Koch Quote