Why do we isolate ourselves

Exit strategies for the coronavirus : Why we shouldn't isolate risk groups

The longer the corona crisis lasts, the more dramatic are not only the pictures of the virus corpses, but also the consequences of fighting it: company bankruptcies, rising unemployment, restrictions on freedom rights, school dropout.

The list has a beginning but no end. The agonizing question arises more and more urgently: When will this finally end?

So far, a majority of people are behind the measures. But patience, perseverance and perseverance may not be limitless. Solutions are therefore being sought intensively. The shutdown must be gradually eased, they say.

But how? Renowned researchers around Ifo President Clemens Fuest and Martin Lohse, President of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors, called on Friday for a “flexible strategy based on risks”. One could start in regions with few infected people and sufficient capacities in the health system.

The database needs to be enlarged

Overall, most of the current recommendations are based on four pillars: intensification of the tests, expansion of the face mask, introduction of an exercise app and special protection of risk groups.

The first three points are correct. It is necessary to massively increase the database on who is infected or who has already survived an infection. This requires more comprehensive and faster tests as well as the corresponding laboratory capacities.

It also makes sense to make wearing a face mask the norm in public. The Robert Koch Institute now recognizes this. An app, on the other hand, can help to understand the path of infection. Wearing such an app would be voluntary.

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The fourth point, which the head of the Federal Chancellery, Helge Braun, has also considered, is problematic. According to this, the restriction of social contacts from a certain date could only apply to risk groups. These are older people and those with previous illnesses. They are more likely to have a severe or even fatal outcome. All other people should go back to their daily routine and gradually build immunity.

The corona exit strategy and the question of justice

What sounds good in theory would in practice mean a break with the solidarity principle. Society as a whole would no longer be held responsible for combating Covid-19, but the main burden would be shouldered by certain groups. That raises questions of justice. Who will soon be able to enjoy the old freedoms again and why?

There are sprightly old and less sprightly. And when does the age begin at which longer isolation is necessary - with 50, 60, 70 years? There are serious pre-existing conditions and less serious ones. Which are relevant? And there are smokers who, according to the Robert Koch Institute, also belong to the risk group. Their number alone would amount to around 15 million people in Germany.

A separation of the population into free and isolated people on the basis of seemingly arbitrary criteria would jeopardize the broad consensus on the measures - and thus their acceptance. The consequence would be increasing polarization.

The coronavirus can kill anyone

In any case, ideas of usefulness and stigmatizing metaphors creep into the debate. As if it were about the fact that many healthy young people make great sacrifices for a few older people who are previously burdened. No, the coronavirus can hit anyone and kill anyone. Anyone who argues with statistics and the probabilities derived from them falls into the prejudice trap.

Initially, the aversions were aimed at Asian-looking people. In India and Africa, however, they have long been targeting Europeans who are accused of bringing the virus into the country. Such reflexes bring back sad memories: Hardly anything in the 1980s promoted discrimination against homosexuals more than the discussion about HIV and AIDS.

When a new contagious or communicable disease emerges, many people look to the culprit. In addition, potential victims are given characteristics that are supposed to make their fate understandable and thus bearable. Loosely based on Theodor Lessing, this can be characterized as “giving meaning to the meaningless”.

The right to non-discrimination in Corona times

How do you think the elderly in Germany feel when it is said all the time that all these measures are primarily intended to protect them? That most other people could already cope with the coronavirus? Some old people may feel grateful for it, others may feel shame. This is almost as unfair to the elderly as the song about the grandma environmental pig, who is responsible for global warming.

Article 3 (3) of the Basic Law states: “Nobody may be disadvantaged or preferred because of their sex, their descent, their race, their language, their homeland and origin, their beliefs, their religious or political views. Nobody may be disadvantaged because of his disability."

But because of his age? Because of his illnesses? The risk groups are isolated, everyone else is free? This contradicts both the principle of equality and the prohibition of discrimination.

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