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Despite having more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the fifth-most in the world, Germany has so far reported only 130 deaths. The numbers are an anomaly in Europe where the virus has devastated countries such as Italy and Spain.
Italy reported at least 63,927 cases and 6,077 deaths as of Tuesday. Spain’s case total of more than 35,000 is in range of Germany’s, but its death toll stands in stark contrast, having reached at least 2,318.
The numbers thus far add up to Germany having the lowest mortality rate out of the top 10 countries hardest hit by the pandemic: 0.4 percent compared to 9.5 percent in Italy and 6.8 percent in Spain.
Germany began a “very aggressive testing process” early in the outbreak, even on those with mild symptoms, Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, told Bloomberg. He said those mild cases may be included in the total numbers, which may give a more complete picture of the virus’ spread.
Another factor may be that the majority of those infected in Germany so far have been young and healthy, according to data the outlet compiled from local health authorities.
More than 80 percent of Germany’s confirmed cases are under the age of 60, the report said. In Italy, where the virus has devastated the elderly, 74 percent who tested positive are over 50.
“I assume that many young Italians are or were infected without ever being detected,” Christian Drosten, a virologist at Berlin’s Charité hospital, told the German weekly Die Zeit. “This also explains the virus’s supposedly higher mortality rate there.”
Still, experts are worried the outbreak will reach older populations in Germany.
“We are only at the beginning of the epidemic,” said Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s public health authority.
Germany ramped up its restrictions Sunday, banning gatherings of more than 2 people.