World Corona crisis: the confusion in the numbers

Corona crisis: the confusion in the numbers

Dear reader,

from the cradle to the grave, forms, forms, is a German saying. It is the punch line to German thoroughness, a tip against the tendency towards bureaucratization, the precise recording, processing, administration. In the corona crisis, a number of things are being done to correct this reputation.

My colleagues Julia Merlot and Marcel Pauly had already researched on Tuesday that there is some skepticism regarding the number of infected people reported daily by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). There are cases in which the RKI statistics lag behind for several days. Example Cologne: As of Tuesday evening, 285 Corona cases were known there according to the RKI. As of March 23, the city already spoke of 857 confirmed cases on its own website – that’s three times as many. In other regions, the numbers are so far behind that the question arises as to whether the reporting chain is not only very slow, but also partially broken. This is not a trifle, because the number of cases is the clock for extensive measures such as a ban on contacts and curfews. Reliable and current data are therefore essential.

The information published today also lacks clarity. This time it was about the number of tests performed on the corona virus. Last week, the Robert Koch Institute announced the number of 160,000 tests that could be performed weekly with the current laboratory capacity. At a press conference, the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) said that up to 460,000 tests were carried out each week by the resident doctors, and the virologist Christian Drosten even spoke of half a million. One reason for the discrepancy could be tests that neither the RKI nor the KBV recorded – and one inevitably wonders: Why is that actually the case?

The good news: if the numbers are correct, the Federal Republic would have massively increased its capacities within a few days and was now one of the test champions worldwide, probably ahead of South Korea, which is considered a model country in this discipline. Many smears make it easier to track infection chains and isolate sick people more quickly.

But how much Germany is really testing is still not entirely clear. This could be remedied by a central register for tests such as those in South Korea.

That would be one more form, but it would be worth the little red tape.

Here are the key developments of the day:

Covid-19 in worldwide numbers

  • Confirmed cases: 491,623

  • Deaths: 22,169

  • Recovered from the disease: 118,245

  • Germany: 36,508 confirmed sufferers, 198 deaths

Sources: CSSE / Johns Hopkins University, as of March 26, 2020, 3:02 p.m .; Robert Koch Institute, as of March 26, 2020, 9:35 a.m.


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The reader question

We regularly answer a question from our readers about the corona virus. Today from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous:

“May the employer instruct the employee to work in the office together with other colleagues, even though the prerequisites for home office are in place? The reason: There are too many in the home office who dialed in via the same access Systems affected. “

The answer from Helene Endres, editor in the job and career department at SPIEGEL:

“First of all, the basic message: There is no right to a home office because of fear of infection, even in Corona times, especially if the employer provides enough secure jobs. So if there is not already a home office agreement, it will now be difficult to enforce working from home.

On the other hand, if there is an agreement, it depends on whether it – as is usual in practice – provides for the right to return. These would apply if, for example, the technical requirements were not met.

If the existing home office agreement does not provide such reservations, it becomes tricky. The employer is obliged to avert damage from the company if the technical requirements for regular operation from the home office are not met due to overload. Here, the way through the case law is not yet paved, but there are some reasons for such an obligation. Especially when the employer cannot reasonably provide for technical retrofitting in this exceptional situation and – of course with appropriate company health protection concepts – also ensures safe jobs in the company. So if you simply do not appear in the company, you are taking a high risk. Then there will be sanctions under labor law ranging from warnings to termination without notice. “

How are you?

Do you have medical questions about the new type of corona virus or would you like to know more about the economic, political and social effects of the crisis on Germany and the world? We answer a selection of reader questions here in the newsletter. Write to us at

Stay healthy and see you tomorrow

Yours Kurt Stukenberg

What you need to know about the virus

We have put together all the answers to the most important questions about the corona virus for you here. You can find further current developments at

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