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Bundesliga restart blow as Dresden squad placed in 14-day coronavirus quarantine

Dynamo Dresden placed their entire squad into a 14-day quarantine on Saturday, just a week from the restart of the Bundesliga season, after the club reported two more cases of coronavirus.

Bundesliga restart blow as Dresden squad placed in 14-day coronavirus quarantine
Photo: DPA

The decision means that Dynamo, who are bottom of the second division, will not be able to play their fixture against Hanover next weekend.

The setback comes just three days after Chancellor Angela Merkel's government gave the German Football League (DFL) the green light to return to action on May 16 after a two-month absence. 

Bundesliga: Germany to restart football league with 'ghost games'

“In the past few weeks, we have made an enormous effort, both in terms of personnel and logistics, to strictly implement all prescribed medical and hygienic measures,” said Dresden sporting director Ralf Minge.

“We are in contact with the responsible health authority and the DFL. The fact is that we cannot train or participate in games in the next 14 days.”

As well as the players, Dresden will isolate its entire coaching and supervisory staff.

The Bundesliga will be the first top European league to restart matches since the outbreak of the coronavirus forced lockdown measures to be imposed across the continent.

However, matches will be played without fans in attendance and with a maximum number of 300 people, including both teams, allowed at each game.

In the run-up to the restart, all teams must go into a one-week quarantine training camp.

After the government gave the go-ahead for the season to restart, there were still worries that an outbreak of the coronavirus in the league could halt the resumed season, this time for good.

As of Thursday, there had been 10 positive cases from 1,724 tests of players and staff at the top 36 clubs in the first wave of testing and two more in the second.

Dresden, who are not allowed to train during their isolation, are due to face Greuther Fuerth in their next game on the weekend of May 23-24.

There is little wriggle room for more postponements as officials want the season completed by June 30.

“Dynamo Dresden has informed the German Football League. We will determine the further course of action with a view to the club's plans at the beginning of next week,” a DFL spokesman told AFP subsidiary SID on Saturday.

The head of the DFL has warned clubs they are “on probation” and must implement strict hygiene measures when the Bundesliga restarts next Saturday.

“Everyone must be clear: we are playing on probation,” DFL CEO Christian Seifert said. “I expect everyone to live up to their responsibilities.”

In the top flight, defending champions Bayern Munich resume with a four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga wants to complete the last nine rounds of matches before June 30 to secure around 300 million euros ($325 million) in television money.

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COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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