Influenza Costs Germany Billions of Euros

BERLIN: A wave of influenza continued to spread in Germany. Economists said on Wednesday the epidemic could cost German economy billions of euros as it forced more and more people to rest in bed.

Until the end of February, 38,455 cases of influenza had been reported across Germany, according to Robert Koch Institute. In last week alone, the number of new cases increased by nearly 12,000.

The flu could not only fill hospitals with increasing number of patients, but also hurt German economy, economists from Rheinisch- Westfaelisches Economic Research Institute (RWI) said.

The gross domestic product (GDP) would decline by 0.3 percentage points, or about 2.2 billion euros (about US$ 2.44 billion), in the first quarter due to the epidemic, according to RWI’s calculation.

“Influenza is among the diseases that have a relatively large economic effect because many people get infected and many workers are on sick leave. There is less consumption and production,” Torsten Schmidt, a RWI economist, was quoted by Die Welt newspaper as saying.

In some companies in the southern part of the country, up to ten percent of staff were on sick leave, according to local media reports. Small and medium-sized enterprise, most of which had less than 100 employees, suffered especially.

Schmidt said a nationwide vaccination injection could reduce the economic cost of the influenza. As a result, the cost would be limited to only 0.12 percentage points to GDP, or 880 million euros.


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