Future

What You Need To Know About The Deadly New Coronavirus

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, THE GUARDIAN (UK), ATLANTICO (France)

Worldcrunch

Over the past two weeks, a growing number of cases have been reported of a new strain of coronavirus, a contagious and potentially fatal virus that resembles SARS, which caused a global health scare a decade ago. Here's what you need to know:

What is the new coronavirus?

The exact medical term for the virus is NCoV-EMC or novel coronavirus. "Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to SARS. Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases," the World Health Organization reports.

The new strain of coronavirus is also referred to as "SARS-like virus" as it has similar features, although the new one seems less contagious, says French epidemiologist Antoine Flahault.

The novel coronavirus is not to be confused with the avian influenza A(H7N9), which emerged at the beginning of the year.

How widespread?
Since the virus was first identified in September 2012, 34 cases have been reported, and 18 people have died from it, according to the World Health Organization. Fifteen of the deaths so far have been in Saudi Arabia, with cases also confirmed in France, UK, Germany and Jordan.

What are the symptoms?
Most patients suffer from severe acute respiratory disease requiring hospitalization and eventually require mechanical ventilation or other advanced respiratory support. The virus causes pneumonia and can lead to kidney failure.

Who is at risk?
The World Health Organization said on Sunday that it seemed likely the virus could be transmitted from human to human, but only after prolonged contact. There is no evidence of a potential "generalized transmission in communities," The Guardian reports. Most patients affected were living in the Middle East or had recently traveled there. They were mostly male (around 80%), and their ages ranged from 24 to 94 years old (median age: 56).

What are the precautions to take?
As of today, the virus poses a low risk of transmission and is not considered as an epidemic. Still, people traveling to the Middle East are advised to wash their hands regularly and avoid contact with animals.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ