German Military to Build Emergency Coronavirus Hospital in Berlin

View of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, devoid of tourists, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, on March 16, 2020. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

The local government in Berlin, Germany, has announced that it will build a new hospital to cope with the rising number of cases of coronavirus in the city.

The Berlin Senate said that the new facility will be designed to hold up to 1,000 patients and will be constructed with the help of the German military, the Bundeswehr. The hospital will be built on the Messe trade fair exhibition grounds in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district of Berlin.

“This measure complements the well-positioned Berlin hospital system to deal with possible bottlenecks,” Berlin Health Senator Dilek Kalayci told Deutsche Welle.

Kalayci said that other hospitals in Berlin will start delaying elective surgeries in favour of treating coronavirus cases. Hospitals will also begin to increase ventilation services in their intensive care units to help patients with respiratory problems as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

As of Tuesday, Berlin has reported that 332 people were infected with coronavirus.

Germany as a whole has seen over 9,877 confirmed cases, an increase of almost 3,000 since Monday. However, the death-rate in the country has remained relatively low, with only 26 people dying from the Chinese origin virus.

In Italy, the death-rate of coronavirus stands at 7.9 per cent, and in the UK 3.7 per cent of patients have died — yet Germany has reported a 0.26 per cent fatality rate, a figure that has perplexed experts.

Richard Pebody, the High Threat Pathogens Infectious Hazard Management team leader at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, suggested that the disparity could be a result of the quality of care or from the way cases are reported.

“We must, of course, examine whether these differences are real,” he told The Times.

Two MEPs from the national-conservative Brothers of Italy party submitted a written question to the European Commission demanding to know why Germans seem to be “quasi immune” to coronavirus.

“There is a suspicion that people in Germany are indeed falling ill and dying from Covid-19, but that the German authorities do not know this — or that they are not saying it,” the Italian MEPs wrote.

Lothar Wieler, the president of Germany’s disease control and prevention agency, the Robert Koch Institute, said that he believes the difference in fatalities will disappear over time.

“We will of course have deaths in the older population in Germany,” Wieler said last week.

On Tuesday, the Robert Koch Institute upgraded the threat level of the coronavirus in Germany from “moderate” to “high”.

The head of the German Hospital Federation (DKG), Gerald Gass, predicted that the number of people hospitalised from the virus will triple in the coming days, but added that he believes Germany’s hospitals will be able to cope with the influx of patients.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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