Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Passengers wearing face masks are seen at the main train station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Voigt/Xinhua)

"It is crucial that we develop our testing and quarantine strategy for the autumn and winter in a well-founded and careful manner," said German Health Minister Jens Spahn.

BERLIN, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Germany's Minister of Health Jens Spahn said on Monday that he wanted to prepare the country for a potential increase in COVID-19 infection numbers during the cold season by setting up outpatient clinics and a new testing strategy.

"In autumn, we need regional and local so-called fever outpatient clinics to which patients with typical respiratory symptoms, such as corona and flu, can turn," Spahn told the German newspaper Rheinische Post on Monday.

The minister said he was counting on the Associations of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV), responsible for the medical care of people insured by statutory health insurance companies in Germany, to offer such outpatient clinics locally. "In concept, they already exist -- they should be accessible nationwide in autumn," said Spahn.

A man wearing a face mask wheels a bicycle at the main train station in Frankfurt, Germany, on Aug. 29, 2020. (Photo by Kevin Voigt/Xinhua)

The daily number of new reported COVID-19 cases in Germany has increased by 922 to a total of 272,337 over the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Monday. Last week, Germany recorded the highest number of new confirmed cases since April.

"It is crucial that we develop our testing and quarantine strategy for the autumn and winter in a well-founded and careful manner," said Spahn, adding that he expected the further development of the testing strategy in coordination with Germany's federal states to last until mid-October.

Testing capacities in Germany have already been ramped up significantly. "In the last four weeks alone, about a third of all tests since the beginning of the pandemic have been performed," said Spahn.

He said he also wanted to develop a separate strategy for risk groups in Germany, arguing that it was important that "we continue to provide special protection for the particularly affected risk groups and that we sharpen the concepts for this in everyday life again."

Preventive COVID-19 tests in "sensitive areas," such as nursing homes, were an important part of Germany's testing strategy for autumn and winter, according to Spahn.

As the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe -- including Germany, China, Russia, France and the U.S. -- are racing to find a vaccine. According to the website of the World Health Organization (WHO), as of Sept. 17, there were 182 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 36 of them were in clinical trials. ■

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