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When the roommate coughs : Coronavirus in the shared apartment - how to behave properly

Anyone who currently has a cough, fever or sore throat must - even if it is just a common cold - consider a COVID-19 disease. And should definitely stay at home so as not to spread the virus outside if it is involved. By this point in time, however, he could have infected the people he lives with. This not only applies to partnerships or families, but also to people who live in a flat-sharing community, share a bathroom, cooking pots and a sofa.

What do I do if someone in my shared apartment suspects they have been infected with the coronavirus?

From a medical and health policy point of view, one thing is clear: All citizens should currently reduce contacts with the outside world to a minimum. If a roommate is suspected of being infected with the coronavirus, this is all the more true. For many people who live in a shared apartment and have a partner who unfortunately lives elsewhere, this means that they cannot meet their loved ones in this situation either.

When should testing be done in this situation?

If the flat share member, who now has a cough and fever, has had contact with someone who has been proven to be infected, or has just returned from a stay in a risk area, for example from skiing in Italy or Tyrol, should be tested for the virus. And you have to wait until the result is available. If the test is positive, it affects the roommates: They too have to be quarantined at home. In addition, they should try to protect themselves from infection within the apartment as much as possible, by keeping a distance and meticulous hygiene.

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Background information on the coronavirus:

Many people with a cough and a low fever and suspected infection with the corona virus would prefer to be tested if none of these reasons apply, i.e. if they have not had contact with someone who has been proven to be infected and have not returned from a risk area. The health politician, doctor and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach (SPD) recently spoke out clearly against testing in such a situation in the rbb: "The risk must be sufficiently high, we shouldn't set tests arbitrarily." Otherwise there are capacity limits for hotlines, tests and laboratories can be reached quickly. Another problem is the lack of accuracy and reliability of tests in the early stages of infection.

Are shared apartments a particular source of contagion?

On the one hand, there are normal households in which you can get infected like in a family. With the special feature, however, that the members are mostly young and usually have a lot of social contacts outside of their own household. In addition, younger people often do not get sick when they are infected. This increases the risk of bringing the virus home and passing it on to roommates who in turn pass it on without realizing it.

How do I act when I want to be alone?

Even those who live with their loved ones or their children always need freedom in the current situation and have to make arrangements for this. This is even more true in the flat share: everyone should have the right to withdraw to their room without the others being angry about it.

Agreements are really important now, even in purely “purpose-built shared apartments”: When do you meet, do you want to cook and eat together? And last but not least: With which friend from “outside” who goes out for a walk? A list of contact persons is important in the event of an emergency.

How do young adults experience the current corona crisis?

For themselves, most young people do not experience the corona virus as particularly threatening. The latest results of a “snap-shot” online survey wave by the COSMO consortium are of interest, as they regularly determine how the 1,000 people surveyed perceive the risks of SARS-CoV-2. In all age groups, the conviction that you could get sick yourself is currently increasing.

In the meantime, 71 percent of those surveyed find the corona virus worrying. Younger people are much more likely to assume that they will not be badly affected, that is, that they will not become ill at all or only slightly if they should become infected.

“And this lower perceived severity of the disease is associated with less protective behavior,” summarizes the Science Media Center (SMC). After all, that people meet intentionally to get infected, for example when they are organized specifically for this purpose Corona parties ", according to this survey, seem to be very rare.

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Psychology professor Peter Walschburger from the Free University of Berlin is thinking about how living together with people of the same age in the flat share could affect the experience of the corona crisis: “Young people here do not experience any particular risk for themselves or their friends.

If you look at the intergenerational relationship, it is above all the elderly who experience themselves as those who are existentially affected - a remarkable reversal of the perceived threat from climate change, where the younger generation complains that the elderly will lose their future.

Covid-19: Shouldn't I go back to my parents now?

Many who haven't left school long and have only been living in a big city flat share for a short time have one leg, so to speak, in their parents' house, to which they regularly return on weekends and during the semester break. In view of the restrictions on social life, the closed clubs, bars and cinemas and the impending curfew, shouldn't it be better to go back there for an (indefinite) period of time?

But have you not already been infected and could endanger the parents and grandparents who live in the place of origin? In addition, there is no question mark: train travel should be avoided at the moment if the journey is not absolutely necessary. All of this speaks against fleeing into the saving arms of the family of origin now of all times.

Does the crisis lead to more cohesion?

Perhaps instead the relationship with the people with whom you live more or less voluntarily in a shared flat will become closer. “A common threat can shake people up, says Walschburger. We are by nature social beings. "

In the very young, the corona crisis could also trigger a surge in maturity, says the psychologist. “If we have survived this crisis, we will have changed.” His great hope is that the cohesion of society will improve as a result of the current crisis.

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