Düsseldorf/Heinsberg/Cologne The coronavirus has now been confirmed in NRW. A couple from the Heinsberg district is being treated at the University Hospital in Düsseldorf. Three people from the couple's social circle are also infected, as well as a soldier in Cologne and a doctor in Mönchengladbach. The Crisis Staff is now searching for all visitors to a carnival event.
Have kindergarten children and carnival visitors also become infected? Following the confirmed coronavirus cases in North Rhine-Westphalia, numerous further test results from contact persons of those infected are expected this Thursday. These include kindergarten children and dozens of participants at a carnival event. The authorities are trying to stop the further spread of the disease - with quarantine and kindergarten and school closures. But it is precisely the many contacts of the infected couple with other people that make this a difficult task. In addition, it remained unclear at first where the couple became infected. "We cannot guarantee that we will be able to stop the chain of infection," admitted NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) at a press conference on Wednesday. In the evening, the newspaper Rheinische Post reported about another confirmed case of a doctor in Mönchengladbach. From the Heinsberg district it was reported that three contact persons of the infected couple were also infected. In Siegburg there is a first suspected case.
The Coronavirus Crisis Staff in NRW has asked all visitors to a carnival event to register with them. They are to remain in quarantine, the Heinsberg district reported on Wednesday evening. The reason: the couple in which the coronavirus was detected is said to have participated in a carnival session in Langbroich-Harzelt.
The district of Heinsberg estimates that about 300 people attended the carnival session in a hall on February 15. The attendees, as well as their partners and, if necessary, children and other roommates had to remain in domestic quarantine for 14 days, it was said. The visitors to the carnival session were asked to report immediately. They were urgently requested not to flood the police emergency numbers or to visit doctors' offices or hospitals on their own.
According to the German Armed Forces, the corona virus has also been detected in a soldier of the Air Force stationed at the Cologne-Wahn military airport. The 41-year-old soldier has been undergoing treatment at the Bundeswehr Central Hospital in Koblenz since Wednesday, the Bundeswehr announced. He has flu-like symptoms, but is "in good condition”.
According to the German Armed Forces, the soldier had contact with the seriously ill man or his wife from Gangelt in the Heinsberg district at the carnival there. "Just because he heard that his acquaintance was being treated at the university hospital in Düsseldorf, he contacted us," said Thomas Harbaum, a colonel doctor from Koblenz. Earlier, the 41-year-old had believed he had a normal flu. Now he is trying to locate persons with whom he has had contact in order to inform them. For security reasons, the military airport Köln-Wahn was temporarily closed on Wednesday until further notice.
The woman from Gangelt is a kindergarten teacher and, according to information from the German Press Agency (dpa), worked in the facility until last Friday. Her husband had been attending a carnival session in his home town over the past few days. "Many people have been in contact with this family, and we just had five days of carnival", the mayor of Gangelt, Bernhard Tholen (CDU), told "Die Welt". The 47-year-old had had an "infinite number of contacts" with other people, said Heinsberg District Administrator Stephan Pusch (CDU).
On Rose Monday, the couple then went to a hospital in Erkelenz, and overnight into Wednesday they were taken to the University Hospital in Düsseldorf. The man's condition was considered critical.
In their home district, school lessons are now cancelled for the time being as a reaction to the infections. Even kindergartens are no longer open for the time being. The measure will be effective until Monday, as announced by District Administrator Pusch. The city of Geilenkirchen also closed its swimming pool and the public library, a spokeswoman announced. The amateur soccer players of FC Wegberg-Beeck were banned from training and playing.
"I think this situation requires some discipline from all of us. But we shouldn't panic either," said CDU politician Pusch, who works with a 100-strong crisis team. He advised that people should avoid "mass gatherings or visits to community facilities". They should best stay at home. Anyone who notices symptoms of illness in themselves or in friends should call their family doctor. "He or she will know what to do in such a situation."
The kindergarten, where the infected 46-year-old woman works, became a particular focus of attention. All children of the affected facility were to be examined. "The so-called smear tests are now being carried out there and we will know sometime tomorrow whether children are infected or not," assured Laumann. The children from the kindergarten and their parents were asked to stay at home. The kindergarten with 65 children announced that it would be closed until 6 March.
There were also reactions elsewhere in NRW: The international badminton tournament German Open planned for next week in Mülheim an der Ruhr was cancelled due to the corona virus. The spread of the virus represents an incalculable risk for visitors and athletes for the city of Mülheim, which banned the tournament, it was said.
Whether there were already further infected persons in the most populous state of NRW remained unclear at first. In Leverkusen, for example, there was one suspected case. The state has received support in the fight against the disease from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), as Minister Laumann said. Two experts are to advise the Ministry and the Heinsberg district.
The task of the authorities was made more difficult because they did not know at first where the couple from Heinsberg County had originally contracted the new coronavirus. A business partner of the man, who was initially considered a suspected source after an alleged trip to China, was not the source, as District Administrator Pusch said.
It also remained unclear whether the two children of the couple were ill. Initially they showed no symptoms, and were being cared for in domestic isolation by their grandmother, said Health Minister Laumann on Wednesday. Tests for the virus should give them clarity.
Especially the condition of the man suffering from a previous illness was considered critical. Already in the hospital in Erkelenz, he was admitted to an intensive care unit: "There, the general condition deteriorated rapidly and dramatically. Lung failure occurred," reported the medical director of the clinic, Harry Elsbernd. However, it had been possible to keep him stable. The couple reported that they had been complaining of symptoms such as fever and coughing since 16 February, although they were not as severe in the woman. Both have pneumonia.
The man's illness also had an impact on Cologne: As it turned out, the coronavirus patient had recently been in the University Hospital of Cologne for regular follow-up examinations in another case - on 13 and 19 February. During this time he is said to have had contact with ten staff members and 31 other patients who were sitting with him in the waiting areas. All 41 contact persons had been located and were being tested for the virus by medical teams, the city's public health department reported. Some of them were still in hospital, others were visited at home.
So far, according to the city, only one person, a clinic employee, has shown symptoms of illness such as fever. "That's why we isolated her directly and admitted her to our clinic," said Florian Klein, Director of Virology at the University Hospital of Cologne. According to the city of Cologne, a total of seven people were isolated in hospital, the others at home. First test results were expected in the course of Wednesday evening.
In Germany, the first infections with Sars-CoV-2, which can cause the lung disease Covid-19, had already been detected some time ago; mainly at a company in Bavaria, but also among returnees from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is rampant. However, these cases did not lead to further known infections.
Following the outbreak of a coronavirus epidemic in Italy, there is now evidence of the pathogen in more and more European countries: Austria, Croatia, mainland Spain and Switzerland reported cases of Sars-CoV-2 on Tuesday. Several cases have now also been reported in Baden-Württemberg.
Many people who have been infected with Sars-CoV-2 only have mild cold symptoms such as chills and sore throat - or none at all. In addition, they might also have fever, cough and breathing problems, as is the case with influenza. Headaches or diarrhea are also possible. The incubation period - the period between infection and the onset of symptoms - is usually 2 to 14 days according to current knowledge.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, the aim in Germany is to delay a wave of the disease in order to avoid the Covid-19 and the current wave of influenza coinciding. Authorities are trying to investigate the cases at full speed in order to prevent the virus from spreading further. This should reduce the burden on the health system.
Orig. text: ga.de (with material from dpa). Translation: ck