Coronavirus: News round-up, 28th Mar 2020
Left leader calls for wealth tax to pay for Corona crisis Die Linke leader Dietmar Bartsch has called for a one-time levy on private wealth to finance the billions of euros in costs in the Corona crisis. Bartsch told the German Press Agency: "Who will pay for the current crisis? The re-financing of the aid packages has not yet been clarified. It must not be the case that the new national debts are paid for by citizens by austerity, as was the case after the banking crisis." Government aims to double intensive care beds The federal government has set itself the goal of doubling the 28,000 intensive care beds with ventilation capacity in German hospitals. The aim is to avoid a situation in which doctors, as in Italy and Spain, have to decide which patients to treat and which to leave to die. In Strasbourg, on the French border, the situation is already dire, according to a report sent by staff of the German Institute for Disaster Medicine in Tübingen to the Baden-Württemberg state government. Medics at the University Hospital in Strasbourg continue to work with corona patients even if they themselves are infected. People over 80 years of age are no longer ventilated. Instead, they face "dying with opiates and sleeping pills". Hamburg refugee group evicted under Coronavirus law Since 2013, the 'Lampedusa' tent was located in Hamburg's St. Georg district. But now it has been dismantled on the orders of the authorities and put into storage. The information tent had been erected by African migrants who fled Libya in 2012/2013 as a result of the civil war. Not far from Hamburg's central station, the tent offered legal, social and health advice to refugees. A police statement announced: "The tent is no longer covered by the protection of Article 8 of the Basic Law [freedom of assembly]." Die Linke politicians said the clearance of the tent was illegal and that fundamental rights should not be swept aside under the pretext of Coronavirus. Opinion poll finds record support for Merkel government Amid the Corona crisis, the CDU/CSU parties are gaining popularity, according to an opinion poll. 36% of those surveyed would vote for CDU/CSU if there were a federal election on Sunday, the Forsa poll found. That is 4 percentage points more than in the previous week, and the highest figure since the 2017 federal elections. The Greens came in at 17% (down 3 points), the SPD at 16% (plus 1 point), the AfD at 9% (no change), Die Linke at 8% (down 1 point) and the FDP at 6% (down 1 point).
Doctors say health system will collapse by Easter An association of doctors sounded the alarm on Wednesday with an open letter to mayor Michael Müller (SPD), warning of lack of safety equipment. The board of KV Berlin wrote: "Every day we treat patients, who are increasingly infected, without protection. [...] There are almost no sterile or non-sterile gloves, face masks, protective suits or disinfectant, even though these are urgently needed in the medical sector." Government measures so far have focused on supporting hospitals, the association said, even though doctors' surgeries are often the first points of contact for patients. "Projections show that by Easter at the latest the Berlin health system will reach its limits, because by then the intensive care and ventilation capacities are already overcrowded and more are needed. At that time at the latest, outpatient facilities will have to be resorted to."
Poland bans cross-border commuting Poland has scrapped the exception to its quarantine rules that allowed people to cross the border every day for work. There is now no exemption to 14-day quarantine for commuters. In Berlin and Brandenburg alone there are reportedly 25,000 people who usually commute from Poland. "Stay here! We will support you", Brandenburg's Finance Minister Katrin Lange (SPD) appealed to Polish commuters on Thursday. The state has offered them an allowance of €65 per day if they stay and continue earning their living in Brandenburg. The finance department will also pay €20 per day for each family member who moves to Brandenburg, to help with additional expenses like hotels. Brandenburg hospitals fear staff shortages, with 280 Polish doctors among the workforce as well as nurses and midwives. Police enforce contact ban in city Berlin police officers have been enforcing the contact ban by breaking up outdoor gatherings and parties. 230 officers were on patrol on Tuesday night, and found 63 violations of the Corona Containment Ordinance. A party in an apartment was disbanded and bars that were still open told to close. 38 criminal charges for violation of the infection control law were issued. The police also flew a helicopter over Gleisdreieck Park, Hasenheide and Volkspark Friedrichshain to check people were keeping their distance.
Source: Neues Deutschland