Family doctors on lockdown: “Mood fluctuates between anger, sarcasm and resignation”

WORLD: Mr. Weigeldt, during the night the Chancellor and the Prime Ministers adopted the strictest rules since the beginning of the Corona crisis. What do you make of it?

Ulrich Weigeldt: I miss a clear strategy. A plan for how things will continue after April 18th. A tightened lockdown may be right …

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WORLD: … or “rest days” over Easter?

Weigeldt: Also rest days, contact restrictions, the call to stay at home, whatever you like to call it. All of this may be appropriate to judge if I lack the data. But to say we will continue to lockdown until April 18th, and then we’ll see, that’s absurd.

We need a plan for after that. There is no clear testing strategy. No vaccination strategy that deserves its name. The virus will stay, it will become endemic. We need long-term ideas to deal with Sars-Cov2. We can’t keep locking people up for months. Apart from the fact that this lockdown ideology is pretty unimaginative.

Ulrich Weigeldt is head of the German Association of General Practitioners and has a practice in Bremen

Ulrich Weigeldt is head of the German Association of General Practitioners and has a practice in Bremen

Quelle: picture alliance/dpa

WORLD: The vaccinations and the tests will change that.

Weigeldt: In the resolutions from the night I can see no new idea how to speed up vaccination after April 18th. I just still see a brazen handling of millions of vaccine doses that are stored in the refrigerators.

If these were given immediately, we would not only have seven million first-time vaccines, but over ten. It is said that after Easter we family doctors should start vaccinating. I ask myself: why not now?

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WORLD: One argument in favor of the vaccination centers is that the logistics are better there …

Weigeldt: The effort in the vaccination centers is gigantic. I experienced that, after all, I was vaccinated there. Before the injection I had contact with ten people. From the porter at the entrance to the people who gave me papers to fill out. The family doctors have long been ready, and the company doctors could also vaccinate.

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WORLD: What else are you missing from the new resolutions?

Weigeldt: The next question to avoid is: What happens to people who are vaccinated? Over seven million have received the first syringe known to provide significant protection. Over three million have been vaccinated for the second time. How is it going on? Why are vaccinated people in old people’s homes not allowed to have unlimited visits? When residents and employees are vaccinated, normal life must be possible there again.

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Vaccinated and still isolated - nursing homes are now hoping for the courts (symbol picture)

Vaccinated and still isolated

The very young are also neglected: The lost time between the second and third year of life has much more dramatic effects on people than between the ages of 52 and 53. Offers such as the number against grief were used more often, children suffer more often from depression. One has to talk about it. Through these hours of lockdown discussions, all other social aspects fall by the wayside.

When everyone is vaccinated, but the dining room is still empty

The dining room of this retirement home has been empty for months. It stays that way, although all residents have now received two corona vaccinations.

Source: WELT / Fanny Fee Werther

WORLD: After all, the tests are starting in schools.

Weigeldt: The test strategy is too vague for me. All countries that have successfully dealt with this pandemic have launched large series of tests. And secondly, making sure that as many tests as possible are available.

I also lack the clarification: On the one hand it says that tests are only carried out twice a week – on the other hand, there is no explanation that a negative test result is meaningful for a maximum of twelve to 24 hours.

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WORLD: How do the general practitioners assess the Corona expertise of the Chancellor and Prime Minister?

Weigeldt: I sometimes dare to doubt whether there is sufficient expertise there. I would like to know who is advising this group. What is certain is that it is a small group that has been coming together again and again for a year and then announcing new measures. That’s not how you take people with you. Not to mention enlightenment.

New Zealand has the toughest lockdown regulations in place, but they are always well explained. If this is missing, the acceptance of the population is at risk. Instead of a threatening backdrop that is based on incidences, one should also talk about the positive things.

WORLD: Are there any?

Weigeldt: It is positive that the death rate has decreased. That the occupancy of the intensive care units is no longer as high as it was at the beginning of the year. That the intensive care physicians have more experience in dealing with patients.

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WORLD: What is the mood like in the waiting rooms of the practices?

Weigeldt: It fluctuates between anger, sarcasm and resignation. I miss the targeted addressing of risk groups. We know that socially disadvantaged people have a higher risk of illness, people who live and work in confined spaces. What happens there if you just keep announcing further tightening? People no longer take part.

I also lack the understanding that the strictest measures are being imposed since the beginning of the pandemic, but meetings of religious groups are only given recommendations.

WORLD: It is a question of religious freedom.

Weigeldt: I know that, but this decision is half-hearted. We know that church services and weddings are great places to get infected.

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WORLD: How do you rate the discussion about Mallorca travel?

Weigeldt: I can understand the lack of understanding when you are allowed to fly to Spain, but the North Sea is forbidden. And I understand people’s strong need to get out of this lockdown situation. As a Bremen resident, I also find it difficult when I can only go on vacation in my own state.

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Two men walk across the sand on Arenal Beach.  German tour operators hope that they will be able to bring holidaymakers back to Mallorca from the Easter holidays.  +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

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