Berlin (dpa) – To protect against the coronavirus, more people from high-risk groups should receive FFP2 masks funded by the federal government than initially planned.
After a comparison with data from insured persons from health insurance companies, 34.1 million instead of 27 million citizens now receive vouchers for 12 FFP2 masks, as Minister of Health Jens Spahn said in Berlin.
The federal government had decided to release the masks for this winter as protection for people at particularly high risk of serious or fatal diseases – including those over the age of 60 and those with certain chronic illnesses. With the receipts they should be able to collect the masks from pharmacies.
A contribution of two euros is provided for every six masks. The federal government has already calculated a cost of about 2.5 billion euros for 27 million beneficiaries. FFP2 masks are particularly effective at filtering particles from inhaled or exhaled air, but they also do not provide 100 percent protection.
In view of possible further corona requirements for wearing masks, Spahn explained that FFP2 masks offer the highest protection. But even surgical masks available for pennies would have stronger protection than everyday cloth masks. In principle, FFP2 masks and surgical masks are now widely available. The now 34.1 million recipients of FFP2 masks already represent a significant portion of the total population.
Meanwhile, Spahn also announced that samples with positive corona tests in Germany should be examined more intensively than before for the exact virus type. According to the Federal Department of Health, laboratories and facilities that perform such so-called sequencing are required to pass the collected data to the Robert Koch Institute and receive compensation for it. A corresponding regulation should enter into force tomorrow.
“We want to be able to better understand where known mutations spread and whether there are new mutations,” said the CDU politician. The reason for this is the fear of the spread of new virus variants, such as in Great Britain and Ireland. Spahn was referring to scientific findings from both countries, which would provide very strong evidence of a significantly higher contamination rate.
Under the regulation, laboratories that evaluate corona tests but do not perform genetic analysis themselves must be able to send some of their positive corona samples to corresponding specialty laboratories and be reimbursed for shipping costs. Self-sequencing laboratories receive EUR 220 for each data transmission to the Robert Koch Institute. According to Spahn, the aim is that at least five percent of all positive tests in Germany are examined for the exact type of virus.