A bus now travels through the disaster area in the flooded Ahr Valley. Charged: Corona vaccine. Without registering for an appointment, residents of the region can be vaccinated. On Tuesday, a bus parks at the train station in Ahrweiler, a town in Rhineland-Palatinate that was hit particularly hard by the floods.
Flood washed out houses, destroyed roads and bridges. However, the flood has also Health care in the region paralyzed from one day to the next. Doctor's offices are not accessible, partly even destroyed by the water. A hospital had to close in the Ahrweiler region. In a pandemic, this is fatal – a just established infrastructure of testing stations and vaccination centers lies fallow.
In addition: thousands of helpers have traveled to the region: Firefighters, police units, rescue workers from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and the German Red Cross. Whoever pulls people out of the mud cannot provide a Minimum distance comply. Those who help desperate homeowners empty their basements aren't the first to pay attention to the minimum distance.
Lauterbach warns: mass shelters are a danger
All this is known to the relief organizations and the rulers in state and local government. And one worry is growing: will the flood wave be followed by the Infection wave? Because people are helping side by side, many affected people, but also volunteers are staying overnight in hotels and in some cases in collective accommodations. Experience in the pandemic has shown that it is precisely these places that can lead to increased numbers of infections.
Figures about the New infections in the area of the flood, the Ministry of Rhineland-Palatinate has not yet been able to provide any information when asked about it. For a serious statement, the time after the Disaster, which was only a few days ago, too scarce anyway.
And yet the state government is aware of the seriousness of the situation. State Secretary Denis Alt urgently called on all as yet unvaccinated adults in the affected area to protect themselves against the Coronavirus to be vaccinated.
In the Disaster relief are "necessarily working hand in hand," "often without being able to comprehensively comply with Corona protections," Alt said. "With vaccinations and rapid tests, we want to make an unbureaucratic offer of protection to those affected and the numerous helpers, so that the pandemic in the disaster area can be kept under control."
A special vaccination campaign like the one in Rhineland-Palatinate is not currently planned in North Rhine-Westphalia, said a spokesman for the state government there, referring to the responsibility of the local authorities. However, the NRW Ministry of Health is making additional vaccinations available to the areas affected by the flood Vaccination quotas available.
Disaster area can become a super-spreader event
"People in the disaster areas certainly have other worries than the coronavirus at the moment, I understand that. But if people are now infecting each other, especially in the emergency shelters, that puts an additional strain on the strained structures on the ground," said NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU).
"Therefore, we give as much vaccine as is needed to these regions." Health experts also see the danger that the disaster area will become the Superspreader event becomes. "Mass shelters are a danger for people, because there is a high risk of corona infection," SPD politician Karl Lauterbach tells our editorial team.
Such cramped accommodations are therefore absolutely to avoid. " Flood victims in disaster areas must instead be housed in hotels and individual shelters." Often this is already happening.
In just a few hours, more than 100 people will be vaccinated
In addition to mobile vaccination teams, Lauterbach is calling for everyone helping with the cleanup to be equipped with high-quality FFP2 protective masks. Recently, the infection figures were very low, for example, in the district of Ahrweiler, which was badly affected by the flooding.
Even almost a week after the floods, the Incidence With just over five new infections per week and 100.000 inhabitants – a value significantly below the average in Germany. In Rhineland-Palatinate, 46.4 percent of the population had been fully vaccinated by Monday.
At the Corona vaccination bus at the Ahrweiler train station, authorities say vaccinations against the virus are not the only option. Residents can also get test let. After a few hours, the state government announced, more than 100 people in Ahrweiler had already been vaccinated. As long as demand continues, the bus will stay on site.