Isolate the infected instead of ruining the economy

Corona tests in a Tübingen nursing home

Isolating infected people outside of their own four walls could be an alternative to further lockdowns.

(Photo: dpa)

The ongoing lockdowns to reduce corona infections serve in particular to ensure adequate medical care, but ruin the quality of life of many people and, with increasing duration, more and more companies and national budgets.

In order to reduce further stress, one should immediately try out previously unused measures with a high potential for success for the protection of particularly vulnerable seniors, as the city of Tübingen has successfully demonstrated. In the second wave that is now underway, only ten percent of those infected there were older than 65 years.

In addition, an out-of-home quarantine of infected people instead of the current domestic quarantine would be a promising and inexpensive way to implement. Without additional measures of this kind, the lockdown would be before the next lockdown.

The current quarantine at home may be appropriate for contact persons of infected people, but infected people must be isolated – according to a doctor’s individual decision – as successful Asian countries show. A person infected with tuberculosis is not sent home for quarantine either.

As a minimum, all infected people should be given the option of supported out-of-home quarantine, as the following examples show: In the large family of a colleague, an infected person infected his family members in the same household because he had no opportunity to move due to the cramped living conditions to separate from them.

A man who has been caring for his seriously ill wife with nurses for several years was infected by a nurse and had no way to go into quarantine outside because the hotels are closed.

It also seems unclear what someone can and should do who tests positive at a foreign airport and cannot go home or to the hotel.

Prof. Dr. Lorenz Jarass, M.S. (Stanford University)

Lorenz Jarass works in the field of renewable energies and power grids for governments, grid operators and municipalities. His current book publication: “Oversized network expansion hinders the energy transition”

The argument that out-of-home quarantine is too expensive can hardly be made at these times. Wiesbaden, for example, was particularly badly affected with 100 new cases every day at the end of October, i.e. even before the partial lockdown. With 100 new infections per day and a ten-day quarantine outside the home, 1000 isolation places would have been required.

Such an out-of-home quarantine would have been feasible for Wiesbaden with at least 3,600 hotel rooms. The city of Wiesbaden should have borne the costs, while the compensation payments for the vacant hotels were borne by the federal government.

Suggestion should be implemented quickly

With 10,000 new infections per day in total, Germany would need 100,000 quarantine places. Assuming costs of 100 euros per day, the total costs per month would amount to 300 million euros. That could be paid out of the postage of the corona compensation.

Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller made the proposal at the end of November 2020 to use hotel beds for an out-of-home quarantine in order to prevent intensive care units from being overloaded.

This proposal should now be implemented nationwide as soon as possible in order to reduce further lockdowns or, ideally, to avoid them altogether, together with further measures to protect particularly vulnerable senior citizens.

More: “Threats and bans are not enough” – demands for a long-term strategy are increasing.


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