Don't panic

In recent weeks, the corona coverage of major newspapers and media portals has acted like an official announcement channel of the federal government. Criticism only occurs in homeopathic doses and even experts are apparently selected primarily on the basis of whether they can sell the Chancellor’s line. Against this background, a review of the corona coverage from January and February is very interesting. Even then, the major media were riding along government lines; only that the official line of the government was still different at the time.

9. January

Der SPIEGEL reports for the first time about a “mysterious lung disease”, which according to the WHO is said to have broken out in Wuhan, China and is reminiscent of the diseases Sars and Mers.

First Asian countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines set up the first quarantine zones for passengers from China and introduce checks for Disease symptoms at airports. Incidentally, such controls have not been introduced in Germany to date.

11. January

The SPIEGEL reports the first death of the “mysterious lung disease” in Wuhan.

16. January

A Chinese employee of the company Webasto receives a visit in Shanghai from her parents from the region of Wuhan, which is severely affected by the Coronavirus.

19 to 23 January

The Chinese woman visits the Webasto headquarters in Stockdorf, Bavaria. She does not yet have any symptoms of illness and is taking part in a Seminar on 21 January together with a 33-year-old Webasto employee from Kaufering. During her stay, she develops the first symptoms and flies back to Shanghai on January 23rd with a fever.

20. January

Meanwhile, several countries introduced controls at airports. The USA is now also testing the body temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan.

21. January

The Federal Ministry of Health estimates the risk as “very low”. However, there is a virologist who sees it differently. Christian Drosten warns in Deutschlandfunk “we have to expect that we will get cases to Germany. […] German hospitals should already prepare themselves to treat such patients”. This reminder remains without consequences.


As the Covid wave rolled towards German Hospitals weeks later, basic protective equipment was still lacking and doctors and nursing staff were not adequately trained. However, Drosten’s farsightedness is not faultless either. He also underestimates the danger of the Virus. “It looks like it’s not that deadly.”


23. January

China seals off Wuhan and sends five million people into quarantine. Jens Spahn sees on RTL “no cause for unrest or unnecessary alarmism”. In a conversation with the daily topics, he urges a “correct classification”. Finally, the course of the disease in China is mildly than the course of the flu in Germany. The Federal Foreign Office assesses the risks for German travellers to Wuhan as “moderate”.


24. January

With Prof. Oliver Witzke, director of the clinic for infectiology and the West German Center for infectiology at the University Medical Center Essen, the dpa finds an expert who underlines Spahn’s “correct classification”. “I think the probability that there will be a greater number of cases in Europe or Germany is very low,” Witzke told the news agency.


25. Januar

In Frankreich wurden die ersten drei Fälle von “Corona” gemeldet. Die EU-Seuchenbehörde ECDC hält weitere Fälle in Europa für wahrscheinlich.

27. January

In the morning magazine Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, describes the danger to the German population as “very low”. RKI spokeswoman Susanne Glasmacher reiterates this assessment on Radioeins and compares the new disease with the flu – which is “a completely different number” and “actually the very concrete danger, especially for certain risk groups.“Numerous studies from China, which prove the dangerousness of the disease, which is later to become sadly famous as Covid-19, especially in “certain risk groups”, are already available at this time.


28. January

Since the Chinese authorities have informed their German colleagues about the sick Webasto employee, they can identify the first Covid-19 case in Germany in the district of Starnberg. Authorities and doctors warn against exaggerated hysteria. The Virus is “not even so contagious” in comparison to the influenza virus, according to Dr. Christian Fiedler, hygiene officer of the Freising hospital, to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. For the Robert Koch Institute, the risk is “still low”. One could finally” similar to the flu " by keeping distance and protect in the crook of the arm sneezing. Federal health Minister Spahn sees “no reason for exaggerated concern”. The SPIEGEL agrees with the Minister: “the flu kills thousands here, the Coronavirus so far nobody”.


The world also knows “why the apocalypse will not come”. “The new Coronavirus is far from as dangerous as Sars, which killed 800 people almost 17 years ago, “says Die WELT, after all,” the current Virus has only (sic!) a mortality rate of four percent”. But of course the author also understands the victims of the scaremongering. After all, “rational handling of probabilities is generally difficult for people. Apparently, Evolution did not provide this capability for Homo sapiens.”

29. January

Lufthansa cancels all flights to China. There was never a recommendation or even an order from the government.

Ulrike Protzer, head of the Institute of Virology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar and the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich, is an expert on the German government’s line. “Of course, it’s always spectacular when something like this occurs again. But if you look at the importance of the disease burden in the wider population, that’s a serious difference from the flu wave that we have every year,” Protzer said. “It is also a certain Hype, which is perhaps excessive”. Protzer considers the risk of a large-scale spread of the Coronavirus in Germany to be very low. “We are well prepared to quickly identify these suspected cases and isolate the patients – so that the spread is actually prevented.”

30. January

WHO declares health emergency due to the new Coronavirus. In Europe, reports are increasing that protective equipment and, in particular, protective masks are no longer available in free trade. Nevertheless, Jens Spahn sees the health care system at Maybrit Illner “well prepared”, compares Covid-19 once more with the flu and calls for Serenity. The risk researcher Ortwin Renn in the FAZ supports him in this, who considers “the fear of the Coronavirus to be exaggerated”.

Parallel to Spahn’s appeasement on ZDF, Georg Restle on ARD calls for serenity in his Monitor broadcast and wonders about the zealous reporting of his colleagues. “By the way, the news about the 6,000 measles deaths in the Congo came almost at the same time as the news about the spread of the Coronavirus. However, only very few people noticed this, " says Restle. In a film contribution, Prof. Egbert Tannich from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine the role of the astonished:” We are surprised how extensive this reporting is, how strong, what space the whole thing occupies, " Tannich says. “In principle, one could finally foresee that the danger of the Virus is significantly lower than originally assumed,” says the Monitor Expert.

1. Februar

Im SPIEGEL gibt Hermann-Josef Tenhagen Tipps für die Altersvorsoge. Man solle langfristig am Aktienmarkt in Produkte wie Indexfonds auf den MSCI World investieren. Vorläufig gäbe es keinen Grund zur Beunruhigung für langfristige Anleger. Einige Tage später sollte der MSCI World mehr als ein Drittel seines Wertes verlieren.

3. Februar

“Im Vergleich zu anderen Krankheiten ist das Virus relativ harmlos”, stellt nun auch der Faktenfinder der Tagesschau fest und wiederholt damit das, was die Regierung und ihre Experten vorbeten, ohne diese Fakten zu “checken”. Dies beträfe nicht nur die Grippe, sondern auch die Masern. Grenzschließungen seien übrigens nicht wirkungsvoll. Später werden die Faktenfinder die “Maßnahmen” als wirkungsvoll bezeichnen.

5. Februar

Laut Ifo-Institut wird das Coronavirus die deutsche Wirtschaft kaum betreffen


6. February

The Süddeutsche Zeitung has found a new expert who talks down the danger of the Virus. “Corona is by no means more dangerous than Influenza,” says Clemens Wendtner, chief physician at the clinic for infectiology at the Munich clinic Schwabing. “Unlike the flu, which affects several hundred thousand people every year, the probability of infection with Corona in this country is very low.” He did not assume that the Virus would spread in Germany and Europe in the same epidemic form as in China. One day later, the Schwabinger chief physician repeats these statements to the Bayerischer Rundfunk. “It doesn’t have much to do with a very, very dangerous disease – the Coronavirus is by no means more dangerous than Influenza”


7. February

Now the WHO is also warning of a worldwide shortage of protective equipment. It will take more than a month for Germany to respond seriously to this warning and to start organising masks and coats for health care workers.

9. February

China is now sending thousands of doctors to the sealed-off city of Wuhan and is strengthening its already rigid protection measures in the Rest of the country.

12. February

Now the Robert Koch Institute is waking up very slowly and raves that the Virus can still cause major problems internationally. “Global development suggests that there may be a worldwide spread of the Virus in the sense of a pandemic,” according to a report by the RKI. Jens Spahn continues to reject fever measurements at airports. There will not be a stop for passengers from affected areas until more than two months later, on 15 April.

13. February

Now the EU ministers also fear shortages of medicines and protective clothing. Lothar Wieler does not see this Problem in an Interview with Deutschlandfunk. One is “well prepared” and “able to contain the Coronavirus”.

14. February

The dpa once again lets the Essen expert Oliver Witzke have his say. “There is basically no relevant risk in Germany of getting infected with the Coronavirus,” Witzke says. He said that he “cares about the carnival that is currently running as much as every year”.

15. February

At the carnival “cap meeting” in Gangelt, Heinsberg County, an infected man infected a large number of other participants. One day later he shows up at the hospital in Erkelenz with fever and cough, but is sent home again. Nine days later, on Rose Monday, he appears again in the hospital and is now also tested for Covid-19. However, the positive result will only be announced after Rose Monday. To date, there are 1,695 infections and 57 deaths from Covid-19 in the district of Heinsberg.

17. February

The number of infections in China rises to more than 70,000, but the growth reaches its peak and is expected to decrease from now on. With its rigid measures, China seems to be getting the pandemic under control. Anyone entering Germany from China is not even checked for fever.

19. February

Shortly before Rose Monday, the carnival is in the best mood: “when you consider that many, many more people are affected by our normal flu than by this Coronavirus, I am not at all concerned that we will not be able to help on Rose Monday until the doctor comes,” says Holger Kirsch, the head of the Cologne Carnival procession in southern Germany.

23. February

After the first Covid-19 deaths, Italy shut down several cities. The carnival in Venice ends prematurely.

24. February

Rose Monday. New infections in China are clearly decreasing.

New Infection in China

25. February

In Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, the first cases of Covid-19 are reported in Germany, where the infection chain took place in Germany and cannot be traced.

26. February

ash Wednesday. In a press conference Jens Spahn now confesses, “We are at the beginning of a Corona epidemic”. His colleague Laumann from North Rhine-Westphalia wants to reassure citizens: “we are talking about a mortality rate of only two percent”.

27. February

On N-tv, experts clarify “why panic about the Coronavirus unnecessary”. Virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit: “as a rule, this is a mild disease – like a cold. You just get over it”.

René Gottschalk, head of the Frankfurt health office, also sees a runny nose. “To barracks someone for 14 days because of a disease that runs like a cold is completely disproportionate,” says Gottschalk.

On February 27, according to official calculations, Germany has 10 active cases and is moving into the phase of exponential expansion.


Only on 18 March the number of new cases decreases after the imposition of the first “measures”. As of today, 157,000 people in Germany are suffering from Covid-19. The disease, which according to the experts of some media “runs like a cold”, has caused 5,877 deaths and Germany has been very lucky compared to other European states. If the as yet unknown “Super Spreader” had not gone to the Après-Ski party in Ischgl, but to the carnival in Cologne, the numbers would probably look different. The social and economic consequences, the extent of which cannot yet be defined, are at least as dramatic. All this could have been prevented if one had reacted early to the events in China and learned from countries such as South Korea, Taiwan or Singapore. But why turn the world upside down because of a “sniff”?

The failures of the spring must be urgently addressed. It was not only politics that failed on a broad scale. The media also shone in these weeks with uncritical court reporting, which has always defended the line of the federal government and underpinned the government’s Position with expert quotes. Today, the course has turned 180 degrees. However, the line is the same, except that the experts now have different names. The biggest madness about the Situation is that the media know as little as the politicians and doctors, but everyone wants to know better, but of course FakeNews only spread Russia and China.