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City warns of increased risk of contagion : South Africa mutation spreads in Bonn

City warns of increased risk of contagion : South Africa mutation spreads in Bonn

The number of Covid-19 cases with the variant first detected in South Africa continues to rise in Bonn. The health department reports an almost 100 percent contagion rate in affected families. Meanwhile, general practitioners in Bonn are complaining about a lack of vaccines.

The Bonn incidence rate jumped from 144.7 to 162 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Thursday. But the health department says the infections are scattered with no major outbreaks. The only exception, according to the press office, is a senior citizens' facility where six residents and three employees are affected.

As of Wednesday, there were also infections reported in seven daycare centers. According to information from the city, there were one or two cases in most of the facilities. Only in the daycare center on Kaiser-Karl-Ring were there slightly more, with four infections.

Meanwhile, the virus mutations are also becoming increasingly prevalent in Bonn. Their share of new infections is now 70.2 percent, according to the press office. The total number of cases recorded which involve the variants rose to 1,512 - since the first appearance on January 28. Of those, 1,474 cases involved the UK variant of the coronavirus.

South Africa mutation spreads in Bonn

But the spread of the particularly contagious South African mutation will probably be difficult to stop in Bonn. While the Brazilian variant has remained at two cases for weeks, the number of cases of the South African mutation climbed to 36, including eleven active cases as of Thursday. The health department has no information on how this virus entered the city. The registered cases are not a single chain of infection, but several - making it more difficult. This mutation has already appeared in schools, daycare centers, retirement homes and hospitals in Bonn, according to city spokeswoman Monika Hörig. "It is clearly more contagious, especially family contacts fall ill more often, almost 100 percent," Hörig said. "The progression (of disease) is sometimes more severe." The health department is responding to the higher risk with stricter contact person management in accordance with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute, she said.

In the meantime, primary care physicians are very busy. They have been permitted to give Covid-19 vaccines since last week. Since then, some report, their phones have not stopped ringing. "I have some patients who are crying on the phone because I can't give them a definite confirmation of when they will get a vaccination appointment with me," says a family doctor who does not want to be named. He and his staff have spent a lot of time compiling lists of patients who can receive the coveted vaccine first. There is also the bureaucratic work involved and a billing procedure that does not go through the health insurance funds, but through the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. "I have to say that we are now at the limit of our workload," says the doctor. It also happens that one or the other patient has already had a vaccination appointment at the vaccination center and does not cancel his or her appointment with the primary care physician. "That is annoying. Then we could have promptly vaccinated someone else," says the family doctor.

Bonn general practitioners complain about lack of Covid-19 vaccine

Even for Bernhard Koop, who has his primary care practice on the Brüser Berg, the phones are ringing off the hook. "On top of that, my medical assistants have to listen to some rude remarks," says the physician, describing the situation. "What are we supposed to do? We're only getting 30 vaccine doses a week at the moment, and that's in no way enough." Some 700 patients have signed up to be vaccinated, he says. Theoretically, he could vaccinate 200 a day if there was enough vaccine, he says. He has put together a vaccination team especially for this purpose. But Koop's hands are still tied. Like his colleagues, he can only proceed according to the priority list and initially vaccinate only patients with pre-existing conditions. Starting next week, the practices will also receive the Astrazeneca vaccine. Has Koop heard of any patients who have reservations about it? "I can only say that those who don't want to be vaccinated with it will have to wait. Then others will have their turn. I don't discuss it anymore.”

Jörg Abel and Britta Zühlke run a primary care practice in Duisdorf on Rochusstraße. They have now built up a good structure to cope with the demand, they both report on the phone. "We have assigned an employee who deals exclusively with Covid-19 vaccinations," says Abel. They, too, could vaccinate significantly more patients "if we had enough vaccine. So right now we're just managing the shortage," Abel sighs. The two GPs were also very familiar with the vaccination campaign before it started in the practices: like their colleague Koop, they had previously worked in one of the vaccination centers. Thanks to lots of practice, they manage to get six to seven doses of vaccine out of one vial. Still, even that is not nearly enough. "The psychological pressure is great when you have to put off as many patients as you do at the moment," says Zühlke.

(Orig. text: Andreas Baumann; Translation: ck)