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New cases in the Rhein-Sieg district: Person infected with coronavirus had up to 600 contacts per day

New cases in the Rhein-Sieg district : Person infected with coronavirus had up to 600 contacts per day

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Rhein-Sieg-district has risen to 24. Much work is focusing on two cases where the public health department is unable to determine with how many other people the infected people came into contact.

Two other people who tested positive for the coronavirus are creating a lot of work for the Rhein-Sieg District Health Office because numerous contacts have to be identified.

“There are two current cases where we probably won’t be able to trace all contacts,” said District Administrator Sebastian Schuster on Thursday at the daily district press conference. One case in the region concerns a woman who works in an optician’s shop on the right bank of the Rhine (further details will not be given), and a pupil of the Siebengebirge secondary school, whom it appears also works in a fast-food restaurant and as a bouncer. “Both are activities with many close contacts”, said the head of the district health office Rainer Meilicke. “The scope of the work is enormous.” Currently, the advisory activities of the health office are fading into the background and people phoning the hotline could end up on hold.

There is a total of 25 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 and 273 people are in home-isolation in the district. “Slightly more than half of the municipalities in the Rhein-Sieg district are now affected,” said Schuster. Most of the corona cases (9) are still in Siegburg. New cases emerged on Wednesday, as reported: a young man in Meckenheim and a case in Niederkassel, and on Thursday one new case each in Alfter and Siegburg.

On Thursday, three schools in the district remained closed: Two in the Siebengebirge and an annexe of the Nümbrecht secondary school in Ruppichteroth. One confirmed infection with the coronavirus was identified at the Siebengebirge secondary school. Here, the public health department needs until the weekend to check contacts and chains of contacts. The school is scheduled to reopen on Monday.

The Oelberg secondary shool in Königswinter is closed

The Oelberg secondary school in Königswinter is closed for one day after consultation with the regional government. According to Meilicke, this measure was not necessary, as there was "only a suspicion that a student might have had contact". The goal of the health department is always to keep schools running. If there is a confirmed infection, then the authority quickly needs an address list of contact persons. The Siebengebirge secondary school did not provide this list on Wednesday, said Meilicke, so that the school will have to remain closed for two days. “The contact person identification in schools is particularly important! Once we have narrowed down the contact persons, it is not necessary to close the entire school,” explained Meilicke and appealed to school directors to seek contact with the health authority. “Our contact details have been available to the schools for years.”

The NRW Ministry of Education has already sent four e-mails on the subject of coronavirus. It points out, among other things, that the complete or partial closure of a school is mandated by the public order authority or the health department. Closure by the school management is only considered in an emergency.

On Thursday, the infected male pupil who attends the Siebengebirge secondary school in Bad Honnef, contacted the General-Anzeiger. On Wednesday it had been reported that he had published his infection on social media himself. “Word must have spread around in the staff room that I posted it on Facebook, but I don’t have Facebook,” he said. The 18-year-old attends the upper school. “I received a call from the lab on Wednesday at 10:25 a.m. that I had tested positive. Seven minutes later I informed the school and half an hour later, my employer,” he reported.

The 18-year-old has a part-time job in a catering company and, as he says himself, has up to 600 customer contacts a day. “I have sent the health department a list of 30 school contacts and about 100 in my job,” he said. Due to his job, where and from whom he became infected is not traceable. He had gone to his family doctor on Monday because of fever, cold and very severe headaches and the doctor initially diagnosed bronchitis and a viral infection. On Tuesday, he then had himself tested at the university hospital in Bonn. "I thought that I might have become infected because of my many contacts through my work," he said. On Wednesday morning he was informed of the positive result. Since then, he is feeling better and the symptoms have partly subsided. His home quarantine will last until 23 March. “I stay in my room a lot and try to keep myself busy somehow”, he says.

On Thursday, the district's public health department appealed once again to people to refrain from having contact if they suspect they are ill and to first contact doctors and authorities by telephone. Under protective measures, affected persons may then go to their family doctor and to the swab location, where they will be tested for SARS-CoV-2. "We believe anyone who says that they are following the rules," explained Meilicke. Affected individuals commit themselves to a declaration to stay at home. However, if someone shows non-compliance, the public order office could respond with house arrest.

District administration offices that have contact with customers, the road traffic office and the foreigners' office remain open as usual, and food inspectors are also still operating. Since all meetings have been cancelled except for the district election committee, urgent decisions have to be made by written circulars. “The district administration is still capable of functioning”, said Schuster. Money for day-care planning in Neunkirchen-Seelscheid was approved by emergency decision.

The administration reports the current numbers of coronavirus cases in the district twice-daily and therefore provides an overview for the region. Nationwide, the figures of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and those of the different states differ. According to the head of the health office, this is related to the reporting system. Infections only have to be reported directly to the RKI in outbreak situations; these have now been completed, so that the figures arrive at the RKI with a delay.

(Original text; Bettina Köhl and Hansjürgen Melzer, translation John Chandler)