THE coronavirus could last for two years, a German public health agency has warned.
The Robert Koch Institute, the German federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention, made the claim today as it raised the country’s threat risk from “moderate” to “high”.
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The institute said the coronavirus outbreak could last for another 24 months, adding pandemics usually run their course in waves.
The announcement comes after the German Chancellor Angel Merkel said that gatherings in churches, mosques and synagogues would be banned while playgrounds and non-essential shops would have to be closed.
The latest coronavirus figures from Germany stand at 8,000 confirmed cases and 20 deaths.
The RKI head Lothar Wieler said the length of time the pandemic would last depends on how many people develop immunity to COVID-19 after contracting the virus, as well as how many more people test positive for the virus and how long it takes to develop a vaccine.
He did not rule out the possibility some of the emergency measures taken around the world could stay in place for the duration of the outbreak but only in an “extreme situation”.
Dr Wieler said the risk adjustment is based on the continual increase in new infections, along with warning signs from hospitals and public health facilities.
Elsewhere in Germany, the Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the government would stump up €50million (£45m) to bring home German citizens stuck abroad all over the world.
He said the government would be working with airlines, including Lufthansa, to ensure Germans were brought back home.
While no exact figure on the number of Germans currently stuck abroad was given he did say there were between 4,000 and 5,000 people currently in Morocco.
But he said: “Even if we will do everything humanly possible, we cannot in every case provide a solution within 24 hours”.
Germany also stepped up measures against travel today by also issuing a global travel warning in response to the outbreak.
The government warned that leaving the country currently presented a threat to life.
Only China’s Hubei region – where COVID-19 originated – had issued a similar warning.
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