• Michali Henig

Corona-Ampel: what is it and what is it good for?

After a summer break, Corona cases are starting to climb again, making Berlin one of the new Corona-hotspots.

In this context, we keep hearing about the corona-traffic-light (Corona-Ampel), which is supposed to give us some indication of the infection (and risk) situation in our city.

How does it work and what is it good for?

First of all, some background

The Corona-traffic-light system (Corona-Ampel) was invented back in May, when the lockdown was released. The government had formulated a very gradual plan, presenting the "new normal" in which we lived this summer. As part of the plan, restaurants and bars were allowed to re-open and events gradually became allowed again, with the number of participants increasing gradually. Furthermore, the education system started going back to normal, allowing parents to go back to their business (aka work) and we were allowed to meet more people.

All of this is nice and well, but its crystal clear that the numbers might also increase. This did not really happen in summer, but we start seeing this increase now. Altogether it makes sense, since viruses tend to spread when the temperatures drop and people hang out together in closed spaces.

So, back in May, the government had to come up with a plan in order to monitor the spread of the virus. The plan they came up with is called the traffic-light-plan.

Basically, it takes three measurements into account. The combination of those shows the severity of our situation and tells us if we need to act.

BTW, another mean that was supposed to help us out with the virus was the corona warn-app. I recently read that it´s not as helpful and effective as they hoped it to be. Aber naja...

What are those three measurements?

The Corona-traffic-light has three indicators:

  1. R-value: This is the reproduction rate. In simple words, it shows how many people are infected by one Corona patient in average. As long as the R is below 1, it means that each Corona patient infects less than one person in average, therefore the numbers should drop in the future.

  2. Neuinfektionen: The number of new infections per 100.000 inhabitants. Standardization is important :)

  3. Bettenkapazität: The percentage of occupied hospital beds in the intensive care units.

The combination of those three indicators gives us a clear picture about the current Corona-situation in our environment.

What are the critical values?

Each indicator has critical values, above which the traffic light changes its color.

Traffic lights become orange when:

  1. R-Value: After 3 days in a row of a value between 1.1 and 1.2

  2. New infections: More than 20 new cases per 100.000 inhabitants in the past 7 days

  3. Bed capacity: When 15% of the intensive care beds are occupied.

Traffic lights become red when:

  1. R-Value: After 3 days in a row of a value higher than 1.2

  2. New infections: More than 30 new cases per 100.000 inhabitants in the past 7 days

  3. Bed capacity: When 25% of the intensive care beds are occupied.

And what will be done when the traffic lights turn orange or red?

If 2 out of the 3 indicators turn orange, the Senate will have to urgently meet and discuss the situation. Decisions will be made based on the full situation at that time.

In case 2 our of 3 indicators turn red, action must be taken. In cases like that, we should expect to get more restrictions on our daily lives, which is necessary in order to avoid lockdown and in order to protect public health.

How can I keep track of that?

This is crucial information. Official information is published daily on Berlin´s official website. It is called Lagebericht and here to be found here.

Personally, I find the infographics of RBB to be also very helpful. in understanding complex topics and changing regulations. Check it out here.

I hope this information is helpful :) Please keep safe, stay healthy and socialize in your community. Its super important, especially in times like this.

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