Local, Practical, Apolitical: Inside Germany’s Successful Coronavirus Strategy

Source: Wall Street Journal

BERLIN—Germany’s success in battling the coronavirus pandemic has drawn international attention. The main lessons: Fight the virus locally, and keep politics out of it.

Germany’s campaign against the virus has largely been fought by regional authorities that created and policed social-distancing rules, worked with businesses to manage shutdowns and safety measures, and prepared the already-robust health-care infrastructure for the illness’s onslaught.


Angela Merkel

Total coronavirus cases per million residentsSources: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Scienceand Engineering (Germany, France); Italiangovernment (Italy); Spain’s Health Ministry (Spain);the countries (populations)
Total coronavirus deaths per millionresidentsSources: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Scienceand Engineering (Germany, France); Italiangovernment (Italy); Spain’s Health Ministry (Spain);the countries (populations)

Germany had 162,530 confirmed Covid-19 cases by Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, making it the world’s sixth-most-affected country. But its death rate, both relative to the number of patients and to the country’s population, is remarkably low, at 6,572.

This translates to 79 deaths per million inhabitants, compared with 463 for Italy, 364 for France, and 191 for the U.S.

New daily cases have been trending lower since early April from a peak of 6,559 down to 1,478 on Thursday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, which monitors pathogens and advises the government on fighting infectious diseases.

Germany has achieved this despite imposing some of Europe’s mildest restrictions on the economy, allowing most factories and offices to stay open throughout its five-week lockdown of schools, nonessential stores and restaurants.

Things could still go wrong. Addressing parliament last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the slightest error in calibrating the lifting of confinement measures, a move that had begun days earlier, could send new infections rising again. Germany, she warned, was on “the thinnest of ice.”

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