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Dozens of new coronavirus cases reported at Army base in Wiesbaden

Students walk towards the main entrance of Wiesbaden High School in Hainerberg housing area in Wiesbaden, Germany. The school announced Nov. 3, 2020, that a student has tested positive for the coronavirus. More than two dozen positive cases have been reported within the Wiesbaden military community recently, in line with a spike in case numbers off-post, city officials said.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By JENNIFER H. SVAN AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 3, 2020

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More than two dozen coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S. military community in Wiesbaden in a little over a week, a German official said Tuesday.

Infections are occurring at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden similarly to the “very worrying” way the virus has developed in the city of Wiesbaden, spokeswoman Ilka Gilbert-Rolke told Stars and Stripes.

The city, which has a population of around 280,000, had 555 new cases of the virus in the past seven days, pushing its infection rate to nearly 191 per 100,000 residents, it said on its website Tuesday. Germany’s public health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, has set an infection rate of 50 cases per 100,000 as the threshold at which urgent action needs to be taken to curb the virus.

It was not clear if the infection figures for the U.S. military community in Wiesbaden include a positive case at Wiesbaden High School or a reported case at Wiesbaden Middle School, which has not been confirmed.

The case at Wiesbaden High School involved a student, said Stephen Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Defense Education Activity-Europe. The school learned of the case Tuesday, principal Heather Ramaglia said in a letter sent to parents and staff members.

“As a result of this positive case, we are isolating those classes of students that were impacted,” Ramaglia said in the letter, a copy of which was shared with Stars and Stripes.

On-base public health officials have begun tracing anyone who was in close contact with the infected individual, she said. Some students, and possibly members of their families, identified through contact tracing may have to quarantine, she said.

Students would transition to remote learning during the time they are in quarantine, she added.

Smith could not confirm a report of a suspected case at Wiesbaden Middle School but said public health officials were conducting contact tracing at both buildings and that the schools were scheduled to be open Wednesday for classes.

The announcement of the flurry of cases at the base and the confirmed case at the high school came a day after a partial lockdown went into effect around Germany, where the number of new cases rose by record numbers nearly every day last week.

From Monday until the end of November, restaurants around Germany can only provide takeout meals or delivery services, and cinemas, theaters and gyms will close. Schools and child care facilities, however, will remain open under the new German rules.

U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden has taken steps to reduce exposure to the virus that closely mirror those in force around Germany. Most on-post restaurants will only provide takeout meals until the end of the month, and the community theater has been closed, among other on-base changes.

Garrison officials will hold a virtual town hall at noon on Thursday, they said on the garrison’s Facebook page.

Wiesbaden last week joined the many towns and cities around Germany that have canceled their Christmas markets, but officials said the city was still planning to decorate the pedestrian area with Christmas lights and a nativity scene.

Stars and Stripes reporter David Edge contributed to this story.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com
Twitter: @stripesktown

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com