Germany eyes South Korean model to fight virus outbreak

AFP

World, Europe

Germany is already carrying out more coronavirus tests than any other European country at a rate of 300,000 to 500,000 a week

A corona patient from France arrives at the Bundeswehr hospital in Ulm, southwestern Germany. AFP Photo

Berlin: In the race against the coronavirus, Germany is betting on widespread testing and quarantining to break the infection chain, a strategy borrowed from South Korea whose success in slowing the outbreak has become the envy of the world.

Germany is already carrying out more coronavirus tests than any other European country at a rate of 300,000 to 500,000 a week, according to officials.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel's government aims to ramp that up to at least 200,000 tests a day, according to an interior ministry document seen by several German media outlets.

The goal would be to test all those who suspect they have caught the virus, as well as the entire circle of people who have come into contact with a confirmed case.

Current testing criteria are focussed on those who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms and have had contact with a confirmed case.

The idea, according to the document, is to move from tests "that confirm the situation" to tests that "get ahead of it".

A crucial weapon in the battle would be the use of smartphone location data to trace a patient's recent movements, to more accurately track down and isolate potentially infected people.

While government officials and epidemiologists have come out in favour of cell-phone tracking, it remains a controversial idea in privacy-minded Germany, a nation haunted by the surveillance of the Nazi era and the communist-era Stasi secret police.

 

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