COVID-19 traces in Germany continue as controversy erupts

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Berlin, Aug 2 (EFE) .- The COVID-19 contagion tracking is carried out in a large capital such as Berlin with teams that spend an average of thirty minutes per person to collect data, a task not without controversy in Germany , with criticism of the police use of that information.

In the Berlin district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg, those responsible for their Health services manage staff dedicated to the tasks of detecting the infected, managing their data, planning sampling and filing, and organizing.

Its Health Department indicates that they have the number of employees for these tasks that correspond to the regulations in force throughout the country, that is, five for every 20,000 inhabitants.

But one of its managers, Jana Kellermann, acknowledges Efe that “the number of employees deployed daily, including weekends and holidays, must continually adapt to the current epidemiological situation.”

“The health department provides most of the employees, but we also receive personal support from the district office and, if necessary, also from the army and the RKI” (the Robert Koch Institute, the leading epidemiological agency in Germany), Kellermann completes.

He further explains that the number of cases they manage varies from day to day, from a few cases to a wider list of contagious persons for those infected, and that support is also provided to medical entities and nursing homes.

The German tracking system has been mentioned as one of the elements that has explained the low relative incidence in Germany of the pandemic, together with a strongly decentralized health system with access to a multitude of regional laboratories and endowed with a high coefficient of hospital beds. intensive care per inhabitant.

According to the latest updated data from the RKI, 209,653 cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Germany, with a total of 9,148 deaths until this weekend; in recent days there has been an increase in new infections -955 in 24 hours, on Saturday-, as in other European countries.

BETWEEN 20 AND 30 MINUTES OF PROCESSING PER CASE

“As a rule, it takes between 20 and 30 minutes for the processing of each case,” explains Kellermann, who describes the start of the scan: it begins with an initial assessment of the priority that a contagion can be and that includes telephone contact with the affected person.

The infected person is asked about the symptoms observed, possible risk factors, previous hospital stays, if he has the conditions to comply with a quarantine and measure constants such as body temperature twice a day, as well as a description of personal contacts that he may have had. to have.

It is a process of obtaining information, which Kellermann adds, it is also followed with people who have had contact with the infected.


“As soon as a contact person reports the existence of symptoms associated with the coronavirus, the health department takes a sample at home,” added the official.

Kellermann points out that this test has to be done as far as possible the same day the case is reported, “in order to send potential positive asymptomatic contacts to quarantine on time”; between 5 and 7 days later the sample is taken again.

In this Berlin district, he says, contact and accompaniment with citizens is maintained “throughout the quarantine period.”

For the success of the process, it is necessary to have “sufficient personnel”, concludes Kellermann, who indicates that the detection and monitoring procedure was already established before the coronavirus pandemic “in relation to other infectious agents.”

And on the use of the application for tracking by mobile phones launched by the German authorities, known as “Corona Warn-App”, he acknowledges that only one person came to his services for having detected through that system that he may have had contact with infected people.

POLICY FOR POLICE USE OF DATA

The case-tracking system is not without controversy, such as that in Bavaria, in the south of the country, where the incidence of the pandemic was from the beginning higher than in the rest of Germany.

There, the eventual use of personal data that is requested in bars, terraces and restaurants to customers to facilitate the work of tracking possible cases has caused a controversy in which the regional authorities have spoken.

German restaurants record such data by order of health authorities in order to assist in tracing possible infection chains, but cases have been reported in Hamburg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate where the police had also agreed to they.

Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann has rejected criticism of that use on the grounds that the data thus obtained and used by the police may “provide important investigative approaches in individual cases”.

“Our citizens rightly expect the police to do everything possible to protect and investigate crimes. In this regard, I cannot understand the criticism,” Hermann told the Funke media group on Friday.

The federal government’s tourism commissioner, Thomas Bareiss, did not share his opinion, who asked the police authorities to be cautious when using the data that clients voluntarily leave in hospitality establishments.

“The customer must also be able to rely on data protection. Everything else also undermines the credibility of the policy and creates enormous uncertainty in restaurants,” Bareiss said of the police use of personal details thus obtained.

(c) EFE Agency

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