Measures for primary schools and students in last year of high school must be better than before Christmas / Allow lifting measures for outdoor activities as the next step

"If we lift he measures too quickly and too comprehensively now, we could see a dramatic explosion in the incidence of infections and a total overload of the health system within four to five weeks. That is why targeted openings are the right thing to do, but we must continue to be very cautious," explained the health spokesperson of the largest political group in the European Parliament (EPP, Christian Democrats), Dr med. Peter Liese, referring to the infection situation in other European countries such as Ireland and Portugal.

"Portugal has a total overload of health care system at the moment and therefore it is good that even the German Armed Forces are helping in Portugal. Until a few weeks ago, the infection figures were quite under control (28 December 2020). However, especially during Christmas, the measures were lifted generously: there were no restrictions on how many people per household one was allowed to meet during Christmas and the nighttime curfew was also shortened. This led to an almost eightfold increase (7.85) in the number of infections within four weeks (28.12.2020: 2,093 to 28.01.2021: 16,432). The spread of the B117 virus variant first detected in the UK has obviously played a role, and possibly also the Brazilian variant (also called V3).

In Ireland, there was an even more dramatic development, but those responsible stopped it early enough through targeted measures. In December, Ireland had the virus under control so well that on some days there were no deaths at all. Additionally, the number of infections was well below 50 in a country of 5 million people with a 7-day incidence of about 250 per day. Nevertheless, already in the beginning of December measures were lifted very generously: gyms, cinemas as well as restaurants were opened and even during Christmas, many more contacts were allowed than in for example Germany. This, in combination with the new British virus variant, which of course mainly entered the Republic of Ireland via the open border with Northern Ireland, has obviously led to an almost twenty-fold increase within 26 days (13.12.2020: 429 to 08.01.2021: 8,227).

Both examples show how quickly an explosion of the virus can occur if one opens too early and too widely, especially in a situation where viral mutations are spreading. That is why we have to be careful. Nevertheless, I am supporting targeted lifting of the measures. One priority is education. Primary school students and students who are in their final year of high school should go to school in terms (half home schooled, the other half in the classroom), but combined with a much better concept than before Christmas. For example, a minimum distance of one and a half metres must be guaranteed by renting additional rooms, and overcrowded buses must be avoided at all costs. In a second step, I think it is right to allow outdoor activities again, such as skiing without the use of gondolas, i.e. in e.g. chair lifts, or visiting restaurants with a strict concept for outdoors. Contact bans should also carefully be relaxed for meetings outside, while maintaining appropriate distances.  In the political sphere as well as among us, even greater consideration must be given to the fact that the risk of infection outside is up to 20 times lower than in closed rooms," the EPP-MEP and doctor. Liese emphasised again that it is completely understandable that people want faster vaccination. However, it is not helpful to always compare the European Union with the 3 or 4 countries where the vaccination process is faster. In many countries of the world, it is going slower. Japan, Switzerland and Russia, for example, have vaccinated far fewer people or, in some cases, have not even started vaccinating.  


"If we lift he measures too quickly and too comprehensively now, we could see a dramatic explosion in the incidence of infections and a total overload of the health system within four to five weeks. That is why targeted openings are the right thing to do, but we must continue to be very cautious," explained the health spokesperson of the largest political group in the European Parliament (EPP, Christian Democrats), Dr med. Peter Liese, referring to the infection situation in other European countries such as Ireland and Portugal. "Portugal has a total overload of health care system at the moment and therefore it is good that even the German Armed Forces are helping in Portugal. Until a few weeks ago, the infection figures were quite under control (28 December 2020). However, especially during Christmas, the measures were lifted generously: there were no restrictions on how many people per household one was allowed to meet during Christmas and the nighttime curfew was also shortened. This led to an almost eightfold increase (7.85) in the number of infections within four weeks (28.12.2020: 2,093 to 28.01.2021: 16,432). The spread of the B117 virus variant first detected in the UK has obviously played a role, and possibly also the Brazilian variant (also called V3).


In Ireland, there was an even more dramatic development, but those responsible stopped it early enough through targeted measures. In December, Ireland had the virus under control so well that on some days there were no deaths at all. Additionally, the number of infections was well below 50 in a country of 5 million people with a 7-day incidence of about 250 per day. Nevertheless, already in the beginning of December measures were lifted very generously: gyms, cinemas as well as restaurants were opened and even during Christmas, many more contacts were allowed than in for example Germany. This, in combination with the new British virus variant, which of course mainly entered the Republic of Ireland via the open border with Northern Ireland, has obviously led to an almost twenty-fold increase within 26 days (13.12.2020: 429 to 08.01.2021: 8,227).


Both examples show how quickly an explosion of the virus can occur if one opens too early and too widely, especially in a situation where viral mutations are spreading. That is why we have to be careful. Nevertheless, I am supporting targeted lifting of the measures. One priority is education. Primary school students and students who are in their final year of high school should go to school in terms (half home schooled, the other half in the classroom), but combined with a much better concept than before Christmas. For example, a minimum distance of one and a half metres must be guaranteed by renting additional rooms, and overcrowded buses must be avoided at all costs. In a second step, I think it is right to allow outdoor activities again, such as skiing without the use of gondolas, i.e. in e.g. chair lifts, or visiting restaurants with a strict concept for outdoors. Contact bans should also carefully be relaxed for meetings outside, while maintaining appropriate distances.  In the political sphere as well as among us, even greater consideration must be given to the fact that the risk of infection outside is up to 20 times lower than in closed rooms," the EPP-MEP and doctor. Liese emphasised again that it is completely understandable that people want faster vaccination. However, it is not helpful to always compare the European Union with the 3 or 4 countries where the vaccination process is faster. In many countries of the world, it is going slower. Japan, Switzerland and Russia, for example, have vaccinated far fewer people or, in some cases, have not even started vaccinating.  

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