The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Germany on 27 January 2020, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Bavaria. The majority of the COVID-19 cases in January and early February originated from Webasto headquarters in Bavaria and, seemingly, from there to Northern Italy, where Webasto has offices, consistently to philogenetic analysis of viral DNA. Later, new clusters were introduced by travelers from Italy, China and Iran. German disease and epidemic control is advised by the Robert Koch Institute according to a national pandemic plan. Currently the outbreaks are managed in a containment stage (with first measures of the protection stage), which has minimised the expansion of clusters such as the first one among Webasto employees. Although Germany is among the ten countries with the highest number of positive cases in the world, it has seen just six fatalities as of 12 March.
The spread of cases between February 27 and March 12.
On 25 February, a 25-year-old man from Göppingen, Baden-Württemberg, who recently returned from Milan, Italy, tested positive and was treated in Klinik am Eichert. On 26 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed three new cases. The 24-year-old girlfriend of the 25-year-old man from Göppingen and her 60-year-old father, who worked as a chief physician at University Hospital Tübingen, tested positive and were admitted to the same hospital at Tübingen. A 32-year-old man from Rottweil, Baden-Württemberg, who visited Codogno with his family on 23 February, tested positive and was admitted to a hospital for isolation.
On 27 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed four new cases, bringing the current total of eight cases in the region. Two women and a man from Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald and Freiburg, respectively, tested positive. They had had contact with an Italian participant at a business meeting in Munich; he was subsequently tested positive in Italy. A man from the district of Böblingen, who had had contact with the travel companion of the patient from Göppingen, also tested positive.
On 28 February, Baden-Württemberg confirmed five new cases, bringing the current total of thirteen cases in the region. A man from Ludwigsburg with flu symptoms who tested negative for influenza virus was automatically tested for SARS-CoV-2 and confirmed positive. A man from Rhine-Neckar returning from a short ski holiday checked himself in to the emergency department of the University Hospital Heidelberg. A 32-year-old man in Heilbronn tested positive and was admitted to a hospital. He was in Milan on 21 February and became ill with flu symptoms on 23 February. A man from Breisgau who had travelled to Bergamo, Italy also tested positive and underwent isolation.
On 28 February, a man from Nuremberg who was in Karlsruhe on business was admitted to the Karlsruhe City Hospital. His family member in Nuremberg was also ill with flu symptoms.
On 27 January 2020, the Bavarian Ministry of Health announced that a 33-year-old employee of Webasto, a German car parts supplier at Starnberg, Bavaria tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. He contracted the infection from a Chinese colleague who had received a visit in Shanghai from her parents from Wuhan. His was the first known case of a person contracting the virus outside of China from a non-relative — the first known transmission of the virus outside China being father to son in Vietnam.
On 28 January, three more cases were confirmed, a 27-year-old and a 40-year-old man as well as a 33-year-old woman. All three were also employees of Webasto. They were monitored and quarantined at the München Hospital in Schwabing.
On 30 January, a man from Siegsdorf who worked for the same company tested positive.
On 31 January and 3 February respectively, both his children tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. His wife also tested positive on 6 February. A 52-year-old Webasto employee from Fürstenfeldbruck tested positive.
On 1 February, a 33-year-old Webasto employee living in Munich tested positive. On 3 February, another employee was confirmed positive. On 7 February, the wife of a previously diagnosed man tested positive. On 11 February, a 49-year-old Webasto employee tested positive, as did a family member of a previously diagnosed employee.
On 27 February, Bavaria confirmed that a man from Middle Franconia tested positive after he had contact with an Italian man who later tested positive as well.
The first case detected in the nation's capital of Berlin was reported on 2 March 2020. As of 11 March 2020[update], there are 118 active cases, including one member and one staff member of the Bundestag.
On 28 February, Hessen officials confirmed three new cases in Lahn-Dill, Hochtaunuskreis and Giessen. The cases in Lahn-Dill and Giessen were linked to the cluster in NRW, and the case in Hochtaunuskreis to the one in Lahn-Dill.
As of 12 March 2020, there are 91 confirmed cases.
On 25 February, a 47-year-old man tested positive in Erkelenz, Heinsberg at North Rhine-Westphalia. He was previously treated at University Hospital of Cologne on 13 and 19 February for a pre-existing medical condition. 41 medical staff members and patients were identified to have had contact with him at the hospital; one person from medical staff showed symptoms and tested for SARS-CoV-2.
On 27 February, Heinsberg confirmed 14 new cases, 9 from Gangelt, 2 from Selfkant, one from the city of Heinsberg, one from Düsseldorf and one from Herzogenrath. Multiple cases were linked to the Gangelter Carnival. All of them were placed in home isolation. This brought the current total to 20 cases in the district. A medical doctor in Mönchengladbach tested positive and was quarantined at home. He had attended the same carnival event in Gangelt.
On 28 February, Aachen confirmed the first COVID-19 case in the region, a woman from Herzogenrath (Aachen district), who had attended the carnival event in Gangelt on 15 February and underwent home isolation. Heinsberg confirmed 17 new cases, bringing the current total to 37 cases in the district.
On 4 March, the first case in Bochum was confirmed when a 68-year-old man returning from vacation in Italy tested positive.
On 5 March 195 cases were confirmed by laboratory test in Heinsberg. The local authorities announced that all schools, kindergartens, daycare facilities and interdisciplinary early intervention centres will remain closed until at least 15 March 2020. Six people tested positive in Münster. Four were pupils at Marienschule, one was a child under care in "Outlaw-Kita" day care centre in Hiltrup, and the sixth was a resident of Coesfeld, working at Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe in Münster. The school and the day care centre were closed as a precaution.
On 6 March, confirmed cases in Heinsberg rose to 220. A mobile medical care unit was deployed in Gangelt-Birgden.Bochum's second case was confirmed, after the wife of the city's first confirmed case also tested positive.
On 7 March, three cases were confirmed in Remscheid and one in Wermelskirchen.Bochum reported its third case, a 58-year-old man from Weitmar who had returned from a holiday in Italy.
On 8 March, the count of cases in the state rose to 484. Of these, 277 were in Heinsberg. Bochum recorded its fourth case after a woman returned a positive test after returning from a vacation in South Tyrol, Italy. She is quarantined at home. A 44-year-old Münster resident tested positive and underwent quarantine with his family.Düsseldorf confirmed its fourth case, a man who had contact with individuals in Heinsberg. All cases in Düsseldorf are reported to be asymptomatic, or with mild symptoms. There are six people in Erkrath, Mettmann district infected. An additional three people were infected with the virus in Bergkamen, Unna district. They are believed to have come into contact with an infected person during a visit to Hamburg.
On 9 March, the first COVID-19 deaths in Germany, a 89-year-old woman in Essen and a 78-year-old man in Heinsberg, have been reported.
By the evening of 10 March, the count of cases in the state rose to 648. All mass events in North Rhine-Westphalia with more than 1,000 participants were banned with immediate effect.
On 11 March, the number of positive cases in North Rhine-Westfalia increased to 801, including 3 deaths.
On 26 February, a 41-year-old soldier who worked in Cologne-Wahn military airport and had attended a Carnival event in Gangelt with the 47-year-old patient from North Rhine-Westphalia was admitted to Bundeswehr Central Hospital, Koblenz, the first case in Rhineland-Palatinate.
On 27 February, a 32-year-old man from Kaiserslautern, who had been in Iran, tested positive and was admitted to Westpfalz-Klinikum.
On 4 March, a woman and a child from Wachenheim tested positive and were quarantined.
On 4 March 2020, Saarland reported its first case. As of 10 March 2020[update], there are 7 cases confirmed.
On 3 March 2020, Saxony reported its first case. As of 11 March 2020[update], there are 26 cases confirmed.
On 3 March 2020, Thuringia reported its first case. As of 11 March 2020[update], there are 10 cases confirmed.
On 10 March 2020, Saxony-Anhalt reported 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it the last federal state to be affected by the disease.
Repatriated German citizens
On 1 February, around 90 German citizens left Wuhan on a flight arranged by the German government. Upon arrival, they were quarantined in Rhineland-Palatinate for 14 days.
On 2 February, two of the arrivals from China tested positive and were moved from the quarantine location in Germersheim to an isolation unit at the University Hospital Frankfurt.
National Pandemic Plan
Germany has a common National Pandemic Plan, which describes the responsibilities and measures of the health care system actors in case of a huge epidemic. Epidemic control is executed both by the federal authorities such as Robert Koch Institute and by the German states. The German States have their own epidemic plans. The national plan was extended for the handling of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak by March 2020. Four major targets are included in this plan:
reduce morbidity and mortality
ensure treatment of infected persons
upkeep of essential public services
short and accurate information for deciders, media and public
The plan has three stages which might eventually overlap:
containment (situation of dedicated cases and clusters)
protection (situation of further spreading infections and unknown sources of infections)
mitigation (situation of wide spreaded infections)
Germany did not set up border limitations or common health status checks at airports so far. Instead - while in the containment stage - health authorities are focusing on identifying contact persons which are set to personal quarantine and are monitored and tested. Personal quarantine is overseen by the local health agencies. By doing so, authorities try to keep infection chains short leading to curtailed clusters. In protection stage the strategy will change to protect vulnerable persons from getting infected by direct measures. The mitigation stage will eventually try to avoid spikes of intensive treatments in order to upkeep the medical services.
Robert Koch Institute
The Robert Koch Institute lists current numbers of registered cases in Germany and other countries online. According to this, 1567 cases were reported in Germany as of 11 March 2020 at 18:10. For Germany, the cases are also broken down by state. The data is published daily at 10:00 and since 1 March 2020 also at 15:00.
Confirmed infections (cumulative) according to data from the Robert Koch Institute[a] since 24 February 2020
^For days until 9th March the value announced before 10:00 in the morning is shown as values were originally provided in the morning. From 10th of March the value is announced between 15:00 and 17:00 by Robert Koch Institute only.
^ abcdefgRobert Koch Institute (RKI) did not update the numbers for NRW on the 10th and 11th of March, these two numbers for NRW are taken from (Source:WDR). As a consequence there is a drop on the 12th of March as 688 is the official number for NRW from RKI on the 12th of March.
^People who have been brought back to Germany from an at-risk area. They were put into quarantine immediately after arrival in Germany.
On 22 January 2020, the German government considered the spread of Covid-19 as a "very low health risk" for Germans and the virus in general as "far less dangerous" than SARS. New travel advisories would not be necessary.
On 27 January, after the first infections in Germany, the government continued to regard the probability of a spread as "very low". Even if individual cases emerged, authorities would be able to treat them.
At a press conference on 28 January, the Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, stated that he was worrying only about conspiracy theories which circulated on the internet, and said that the Federal Government would counter this problem through full transparency. Hotlines were established to calm down worried callers. After a case was suspected in a Lufthansa plane, the company suspended all flights to China.
On 29 January, reports surged that masks were sold out. The government ordered pilots of flights from China to describe the health status of their passengers and ordered passengers to fill out a contact document. The government and health authorities expected more isolated cases but were confident to prevent further spread.
On 30 January, on national television a virologist referred to the government calling the flu wave of 2018 more dangerous than coronavirus as negligent and downplaying.
On 26 February, following the confirmation of multiple COVID-19 cases in North Rhine-Westphalia, Heinsberg initiated closure of schools, swimming pools, libraries and the town hall until 2 March. Games and training for FC Wegberg-Beeck were suspended. The international YONEX German Open tournament in Mülheim was cancelled. The Cologne-Wahn military airport was temporarily closed. The German government opted not to implement travel restrictions on Italy over the coronavirus outbreak there. It also considered itself "far from" issuing a travel warning for the country, which would have enabled free cancellation of trips.
On 28 February, Germany first entered the top ten of countries that had the highest number of coronavirus infections as number nine, in Europe second only to Italy.ITB Berlin was cancelled by its organizers. Heinsberg extended closure of daycare facilities and schools to 6 March. The officials imposed a 14-day home isolation for people who had had direct contacts with individuals in the current cases as well as people who showed flu symptoms. Lufthansa cut the number of short- and medium-haul flights by up to 25%, and removed multiple long-haul routes resulting in 23 long-haul aircraft being taken out of operation. On the same day, Germany enacted new health security measures to include regulations for air and sea travel, requiring passengers from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran to report their health status before entry. Train railway companies must report passengers with symptoms to authorities and the federal police would step up checks within 30 kilometres of the border. The government also declared it would prepare a central acquisition of protection masks and suits to create a reserve, that not all events should be cancelled and that its crisis team would from then on meet twice a week.
On 29 February, supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl noted an increase in demand, particularly for tinned food, noodles, disinfectants and toilet paper. The government of North Rhine-Westphalia advised against panic buying, especially of masks, medications and disinfectants, to leave them for those really in need, assuring there would be no shortage of supply even in the event of a quarantine.
First week of March
On 1 March, the number of confirmed infections almost doubled within one day. German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, expressed his optimism that a vaccine would be available by the end of the year. The Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, said the government was prepared for a stimulus package to mitigate the economical impact. The Health Minister, Jens Spahn, recommended that people with symptoms of a cold should avoid mass events.
On 4 March, the crisis team considered the acquisition of more protection gear as an "extraordinary urgency". Germany prohibited the export of protection masks, gloves, and suits. North Rhine-Westphalia declared to order one million masks. A parliamentary discussion took place. The Health Minister, Spahn, warned that the consequences of fear could be far worse than the virus itself. Spokespersons of Greens and FDP praised the government for its management of the crisis. AfD-leader Weidel disagreed and also proposed measuring fever at airports. SPD health policymaker Bärbel Bas said measuring fever made no sense because not all infected had it. Israel ordered a 14-day quarantine for all travellers from Germany and four other European countries.
On 5 March, the German Federal Office for Citizen Protection and Disaster Support (BBK) said that the spread in Germany was "no catastrophe" and that citizens should prepare for real catastrophes instead. The leader of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom, expressed his concern that some countries showed an unwillingness to act or gave up. He admonished all countries to raise their commitment to the level of the threat.
On 6 March, the German Health Minister Spahn ruled out "any measure leading to restrictions on travel" within the European Union and spoke out against closing all schools and universities in Germany. Spahn recommended not to make unnecessary travels and suggested people coming from risk areas should stay at home. Spahn participated in a meeting with the other European Health Ministers to discuss the crisis. The EU and Robert Koch Institute emphasized that masks and disinfectants should not be used by healthy private persons.
Second week of March
On 8 March, the German Health Minister recommended cancelling events with more than 1000 attendees for the time being. The Deutsche Fußball Liga announced to continue the season of its soccer leagues until its regular end in mid-May. Poland announced random temperature checks for bus passengers from Germany near a border crossing starting the next day.
On 9 March, Germany reported the first deaths. The number of Covid-19 infections nearly doubled to more than 1,200 within the last few days, which put pressure on the government to act. Angela Merkel's administration announced measures to cushion the economic blow. Merkel, who had publicly kept a low profile regarding the outbreak, emphasized it was important to slow down the spread and buy time. The government's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said citizens could be "confident that the whole Federal Government, with the Chancellor at the helm, is doing everything possible to contain the spread of this virus." The Health Minister put emphasis on the responsibility of each individual to slow down the spread and ruled out preemptively closing daycare centers or schools.
On 10 March, Chancellor Merkel announced that between 60-70% of Germans would get the virus, an estimate already made 9 days earlier by the head virologist of the Charité, Christian Drosten. In reaction to a general ban on events with more than 1,000 participants put into immediate effect by several federal states, Germany's Ice Hockey league DEL announced that the 2019/2020 season would be cancelled immediately, and that the championship title would remain vacant this season. Several matches of the soccer leagues, including all Bundesliga matches of matchday 26 will be played behind closed doors, a first in the 57-year history of the Bundesliga.
On 11 March, having faced accusations over inaction the previous days, Merkel took the unusual step of dedicating an entire press conference on the single topic of the Covid-19 crisis. She emphasized on the conference: "We will do the necessary, as a country and in the European Union". She announced liquidity support for companies, especially over the German development bank KfW, to be realized before the week was over. She insisted again on not closing borders. Merkel recommended everyone avoid shaking hands, for example by looking a second longer and smiling instead. The German health minister added that mouth protection and disinfectants were needless for individuals and that it was enough to wash hands with soap intensively. With the FDP politician Hagen Reinhold, a member of the Bundestag has been tested positive for the first time. A staff member of the German ministry of justice has also contracted the virus. Several members of the Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party of Germany were placed under quarantine, including the epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach. US President Trump announced a 30-day travel ban to the US for foreigners that travelled to from Schengen area states, including Germany, effective 23:59 US Eastern daylight time on 13 March (04:59 Central European time on 14 March).
On March 12, German foreign politicians were caught by surprise by a travel ban by the United States and criticized it was not coordinated with them. They also complained that the United Kingdom was not included. Although the neighboring countries have already closed their schools, the German minister of education, Anja Karliczek, declared that a nationwide closure of schools was not yet under debate. The Kultusministerkonferenz debated whether the virus could threaten the upcoming school-leaving examination, Abitur. Its director, Stefanie Hubig, decided that the oral examinations in Rhineland-Palatinate between March 16 and 25 would take place according to plan. She also recommended cancelling class trips to risk areas.