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Germany: Top coronavirus expert’s worries about lifting lockdown measures

Christian Drosten, the German government’s leading coronavirus expert is afraid that the country’s success at fighting coronavirus risks causing complacency which could lead to an increase in infections.

In an interview with The Guardian, Dr Drosten, who is the director of Berlin’s Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital, said the pressure on the government to drastically remove the lockdown measures could lead to a new burst of infections.

The lockdown measures, he said, had led to the success in taming coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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“At the moment, we are seeing half-empty ICUs in Germany,” he said. “This is because we started diagnostics early and on a broad scale, and we stopped the epidemic – that is, we brought the reproduction number below 1.”

Germany started to gradually remove lockdown measures on April 20, allowing smaller businesses such as car dealerships, bike shops, and book stores to reopen. Schools will start to reopen on May 4.

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“Now, what I call the ‘prevention paradox’ has set in,” Drosten added. “People are claiming we overreacted, there is political and economic pressure to return to normal.”

“The federal plan is to lift lockdown slightly, but because the German states, or Länder, set their own rules, I fear we’re going to see a lot of creativity in the interpretation of that plan. I worry that the reproduction number will start to climb again, and we will have a second wave,” he told The Guardian.