SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

German coronavirus testing capacity increases to 900,000 a week

German labs are now able to carry out almost 900,000 tests a week for the novel coronavirus, officials said on Wednesday, as they plan to widen testing among health workers.

German coronavirus testing capacity increases to 900,000 a week
A public health employee at an outpatient coronavirus test facility in Berlin on April 23rd. Photo: DPA.

“Today, we have a theoretically possible capacity of almost 900,000 tests (per week) in Germany already, as long as the materials for these tests are available,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin.

Roughly 470,000 tests were carried out last week, suggesting there is spare capacity that could help prevent outbreaks among medical staff at hospitals and care homes.

“I think it's very, very important to see that with what we've achieved together in recent weeks, including through the strong lockdown, the biggest risk for an outbreak is in healthcare,” Spahn said.

READ ALSO: More tests to flu shots – how Germany plans to improve its coronavirus response

Tests should be carried out “as comprehensively and preventively as possible” among staff, including in care homes, he said.

Federal law and testing guidelines from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control were being adjusted to reflect these aims, Spahn added.

The RKI estimates that the infection or reproduction rate of the coronavirus in Germany is presently around 0.9, meaning 10 infected people infect nine others.

Such low figures have encouraged federal and regional officials to loosen some elements of the lockdown, including opening smaller shops from last week and sending some pupils back to school from next week.

But new rules including a nationwide requirement to wear a facemask in shops and on public transport have entered into force, in an attempt to prevent a second wave.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

SHOW COMMENTS