Ahrweiler district A sign over the A 61 in Grafschaft appeals to people returning from travel to have themselves tested for coronavirus. The reason: 88 per cent of those who most recently tested positive in Ahrweiler had returned from high-risk areas.
Those returning from high-risk areas are a cause of concern for district health authorities in Ahrweiler. The General-Anzeiger made an inquiry to the district health department there and received this information: "In the period of August 10 to 20, a total of 25 people in the district of Ahrweiler were infected with the coronavirus. Of these, a total of 22 people had returned from high-risk areas. It means that 88 percent of the new corona cases in this time period came from those returning from high-risk areas.”
With this scenario, further cases cannot be counted out. On Thursday, a new case of COVID-19 was reported in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler. “The infected person is a family member of someone who had returned from a high-risk area and tested positive,” reported the health department.
It is the feared domino effect and even more unfortunate in this case that the family member who tested positive had to go to hospital because of the severity of the case. This was confirmed by the district health authorities.
Meanwhile, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate is fighting on all fronts against the spread of the virus. Hanging over the A 61 autobahn in the direction of Cologne shortly before the Meckenheim exit is a clear message. Normally the black signs above the autobahns display detour recommendations or city information, but here motorists can read the words "Covid-19 pandemic! Travel returnees please get tested."
State government wants to take tougher action against violators
"The number of new cases is rising sharply again, so now is not the time to talk about further easing of protective measures," agree the state government and local authorities. The state wants to take more drastic measures against people who behave recklessly and endanger others. Anyone who violates the state's Corona Control Ordinance is threatened with a fine, and this is to be increased. If someone is not wearing a mask or not wearing it correctly, is to cost 50 euros in the future instead of ten.
Aiming his words at cities and districts, Minister of the Interior Roger Lewentz said: "I offer that our police, together with the public order services, make it clear during a week of concentrated checks that we are serious. Those who do not adhere to the protective measures endanger others and will be punished for it."
But at the moment, schoolchildren in rural areas are still squeezing into school buses. The district of Ahrweiler is no exception.
Additional buses should alleviate school bus crowding
Thousands of pupils commute daily to Kreisstadt or Rhine municipalities, because that is where most secondary schools are located. Not to mention 2,500 students of the district's vocational school in Bad Neuenahr. "We are prepared to work together with the responsible bodies (including the counties) and the transport companies to relieve the strain," say Transport Minister Volker Wissing and Education Minister Stefanie Hubig. Additional buses should be used to reduce the load of school transport where necessary. The state wants to fund Rhineland-Palatinate for 90 percent of the cost of up to 250 buses. Ahrweiler District Administrator Jürgen Pföhler said: "We will carefully examine the feasibility of the concept.”
“The Public Health Service (ÖGD) has a key role to play in combating the pandemic," state and leading organizations also agree.
"For this reason, the state will continue to provide the health authorities with significant personnel support", said Health Minister Sabine Bätzing-Lichtenthäler. District Administrator Jürgen Pföhler: "Our Health Office is working to full capacity. We are therefore grateful for any support in terms of personnel. We have also turned to the Bundeswehr (German military) on this matter".
Orig. text: Günther Schmitt