The Netherlands and Germany both showed glimmers of hope in the battle to combat the coronavirus on Wednesday, while the number of cases in New York rose rapidly.
Data from Germany show just 0.4% of people who tested positive for the virus have died from it, much less than the 9.5% in Italy and 4.3% in France. In the Netherlands growth in transmissions of the virus have slowed significantly.
Giving evidence in front of the Dutch Parliament, Jaap van Dissel, head of the Netherlands National Institute of Health, said: “The exponential growth of the outbreak has in all probability been brought to a halt,” with the infection only being passed on at a rate of one infected person to one other person.
If proven, this would be a significant achievement. In some countries, the average spread from one infected person has been to as many as five or more people. In the U.S., the state of New York had 5,146 new cases confirmed on Wednesday, and more than 30,000 have tested positive.
Germany, as of late Thursday, has had 43,646 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, and 262 people have died, while 5,673 have recovered, according to data compiled by the Whiting School of Engineering’s Centers for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There have been 7,459 confirmed Dutch cases and 435 deaths with six recoveries recorded.
Germany’s population is estimated at 84 million, and Holland’s at 17.1 million.
The low death rate in Germany has confounded experts, and it could be due to several causes. The possible explanation is that doctors aggressively screened citizens who were either fit or early on in the sickness at the time they took the test, at a rate not seen in other countries, which only had the resources to test the very sick. This has skewed the comparison with other countries, because those who were fit when tested and had caught the virus were more likely to suffer from a mild case and survive.
Germany also was more effective than most countries at tracking and tracing the contacts of infected patients before the spread took hold, effectively containing it better than other countries.
Another, more random, theory is that the first Germans to contract the virus caught it mixing with other nationalities while skiing, which suggested that they were fit and active, and perhaps less likely to succumb to the disease.