Country considers how to return to new normal

Germany is considering how to implement a gradual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s health minister, Jens Spahn, told CNBC on Monday. 

“We are thinking about step by step, that is important … going back to a new normal,” Spahn said on “Closing Bell.

Spahn, who was speaking from Berlin, stressed that it will indeed be a new normal because “all the measures we have taken like keeping distance, wearing masks, no parties … are definitely measures that need to be there in place for months to come.” 

But Germany is in a place to begin considering what a recovery looks like because its rate of new infections has continued to slow, Spahn said. He cited the effectiveness of social distancing measures and applauded the country’s residents for taking them seriously. 

There are more than 128,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Germany and around 3,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Spahn said the German government is now seeking to find “the right balance” between health and economic considerations. 

“I would say it’s not the health of people versus the economy because they are very much interlinked,” Spahn said. “You need a strong economy to have a well-equipped health system, for example. Or unemployment, a recession, is harmful for the mental and physical health of people, too.” 

Germany has received praise, albeit with some caution, for its response to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Spahn said he was “humble” but not “overconfident” about how Germany has handled the spread of the coronavirus.

He cited the strength of Germany’s health-care system, in particular its high number of intensive care unit beds, as one reason why the country was well equipped to respond to the pandemic. 

The country also placed an early emphasis on testing capacity, Spahn said. He said the the country had a strong network of labs, and he noted that the first diagnostic test for Covid-19 was developed in Germany in January

“It’s like pointing a flashlight into the dark,” Spahn said of testing. “If you don’t do it, you’ll just see different shades of gray. With extensive testing, you can really see what’s going on. You don’t just see the symptomatic cases, but the mild and asymptomatic ones, too.” 

Read all of CNBC’s coronavirus coverage here

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