Coronavirus City of Bonn overwhelmed with contact tracing

Bonn · As the wave of infection races through the city, the health office is focusing on schools, day-care centres, clinics and residential homes. However, it is deploying far fewer staff than in the spring.

 The German Armed Forces are again helping out at the public health office. The photo with Lord Mayor Katja Dörner was taken in 2020.

The German Armed Forces are again helping out at the public health office. The photo with Lord Mayor Katja Dörner was taken in 2020.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

The Bonn public health office is no longer able to keep track of everyone who has contracted COVID. This was admitted by the press office in response to a GA enquiry. While other municipalities are reported to have largely given up contact tracing due to the sheer numbers, Bonn is continuing to concentrate on specific areas.

"Priority is given to hospitals, care facilities, schools and day-care centres," explains deputy city spokesperson Marc Hoffmann. In these cases, contact persons are apparently identified for every confirmed infection. However, for several weeks now, the city has been reporting a general decline in the willingness of those affected to cooperate with contact tracing. According to Hoffmann, the administration "cannot give any information” on the causes. The consequences the reduced contact tracing will have for the further spread of the virus in Bonn “can not yet be calculated". The purpose of tracing contacts is to find further affected persons, to get them into quarantine if necessary and thus to interrupt chains of infection. As of Friday, 3 December, the number of people in quarantine in Bonn was 1995.

One reason the health department is overwhelmed is the explosive increase in the number of infections. On Sunday, the incidence in Bonn shot up to 310.7 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within one week, according to the Landeszentrum Gesundheit NRW (LZG). Within a single day, 124 new cases were reported in the city, the LZG reported. From Saturday, 27 November, to Saturday, 4 December, 1025 new COVID-19 infections were registered.

However, overload cause number two can be found in the health department itself: According to Deputy City Spokesperson Hoffmann, about 100 staff members are involved in contact tracing and other COVID-related tasks. In the third wave of infections in spring, there were considerably more - a total of about 170. At that time, the administration had also deployed staff from other areas in the health department. On Friday, the press office did not comment on why it is in a weaker position to tackle the fourth wave. Since a few days, 20 soldiers have again been helping at the health office.

Original article: Andreas Baumann

Translation: Jean Lennox

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