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‘The situation is worrying’: Germany sees rise in coronavirus infections

Germany has seen a spike in coronavirus infections recently, prompting worries over a second wave.

'The situation is worrying': Germany sees rise in coronavirus infections
A mobile coronavirus test unit in Rehau Bavaria on July 22nd. Photo: DPA

Hotspots have been detected around Germany, including at a farm in Mamming, Bavaria where around 170 seasonal workers are confirmed to have contracted Covid-19. 

On Sunday night, Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control said in its daily report that the situation was “worrying”.

In the past weeks, the number of districts reporting no Covid-19 cases over a period of seven days “has decreased continuously,” said the RKI. “In parallel, the Covid-19 incidence has risen in many federal states. This situation is worrying.”

The number of new infections on Sunday was down to 305, after 781 new cases on Saturday and 814 on Friday.

However, the decline is probably down to a “delay in testing and reporting” which is often observed during weekends, said the RKI.

“Previously, the number had been around 500 cases per day, at times significantly less,” said an RKI spokesperson on Friday.

In total, there have been 205,269 confirmed infections since the start of the epidemic, and more than 9,100 deaths. Around 190,000 people have recovered.

The RKI said current coronavirus-related outbreaks are happening in various settings, including meat-processing plants, facilities for asylum-seekers and refugees, nursing homes and hospitals as well as in the context of families or religious events.

'The situation must not get worse'

Experts say the increase is down to several smaller outbreaks.

“The increasing number of positive tests and the spread of new infections are critical signals,” virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told Spiegel Online.

“There is not one central focus, but a general increase. The chains of infection are therefore more difficult to trace and less easy to interrupt.”

According to the RKI, the spike in cases has affected many federal states. However, more than 60 percent of the newly reported cases are due to increases in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, said the RKI. 

Nationwide, there are smaller incidents in different administrative districts, which are connected to larger celebrations in the family setting, leisure activities, jobs, but also in community and health facilities.

In addition, Covid-19 cases are increasingly being identified among people returning from travelling outside of Germany.

“This development is very concerning and will continue to be monitored very closely by the RKI,” said the disease control agency. “A further worsening of the situation must be avoided at all costs.”

The RKI said this will only work “if the entire population continues to be committed, for example, by consistently observing rules of distance and hygiene – also in outdoor settings, airing indoor areas and, where necessary, wearing a face mask correctly”.

Meanwhile, Saxony's state premier Michael Kretschmer said it was clear the second coronavirus wave had already reached Germany – and he is now calling for mandatory tests for everyone returning to the country after travelling.

READ ALSO: Germany mulls compulsory coronavirus test for returning travellers

“The second corona wave has already been here for a long time. We have new centres of infection every day, which could turn into very high numbers,” Kretschmer told German newspaper the Rheinische Post.

On Monday, Bavaria state premier Markus Söder said: “Corona is not over and does not forgive any carelessness: we have to be careful that a second wave does not creep in.”

Eastern and western Germany facing crisis together

Kretschmer said the pandemic was having another interesting social side effect – it has brought east and west Germany closer together.

“The corona pandemic is the first central shared crisis experience in Germany,” he said. Thirty years after reunification, he said, there are no differences. Coronavirus is “the best proof that this country has grown together”.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling from Germany to other European countries

Member comments

  1. Hi I am a regular traveller to Germany to visit family, mostly Bavaria. I have had to cancel my trip 3 times already this year owing to closed borders and the risks of Covid. My question is, have you heard anything about restricting movement of people between UK and germany. I never fly over, always drive. Thanks Andrea E

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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Many Covid restrictions have been dropped in Germany, but some rules remain in place. And as infections increase again, it's important to be aware of what you should do if you get Covid.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Germany has relaxed or changed many Covid restrictions in recent months. However, with Covid infections rocketing again, people are reminding themselves of what rules remain in place, and what they have to do if they get a positive test.

Here’s a quick roundup of what you should know. 

Face masks

Covid masks have to be worn when travelling on public transport, including planes departing to and from Germany. 

They also have to be worn in places where there are more vulnerable people, such as care homes, hospitals and doctor offices. 

Masks are not mandatory anymore in shops (including supermarkets) and restaurants, but individual businesses can enforce the rule so watch out for signs on the door. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

FFP2 masks have become the standard in Germany, but in some cases other medical masks are sufficient.

There are no longer any entry rules to public venues such as the 3G or 2G rule, meaning that people had to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. 

However, they could return in autumn if the infection protection laws are adapted, and if the Covid situation gets worse.

Mandatory isolation 

The rules on isolation differ from state to state, but there is one general requirement: those who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

If you get a positive result at home, you should go to a test centre and undergo a rapid antigen test. If it is positive, the quarantine obligation kicks in. If it is negative, you have to get a PCR test.

If you have Covid symptoms, you should contact your doctor, local health authorities or the non-emergency medical on-call service on 116 117. They can advise or whether you should get a PCR test. 

Across German states, the isolation period lasts 10 days, but – as we mentioned above – there are differences on how it can end earlier. 

In Berlin, for instance, it can be shortened from the fifth day with a negative test if you have been symptom free for 48 hours. If this isn’t the case, the isolation is extended until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours and tested negative. But you can leave without a negative test after 10 days. 

A positive Covid test.

A positive Covid test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Anyone who tests positive for Covid using a rapid test at a testing centre can have a free PCR test to confirm whether they have Covid-19. If the PCR test is negative, there is no obligation to go into quarantine.

In Bavaria, the isolation period is five days after the first positive test. For isolation to end on day five you must be symptom free for at least 48 hours. Otherwise, isolation is extended for 48 hours at a time until the maximum of 10 days. 

A test-to-release is not needed to end the isolation, unless the person works in a medical setting. 

READ ALSO: Germany sets out new Covid isolation rules

After isolation, Bavaria recommends that you wear an FFP2 mask in public places indoors and reduce contact for an extra five days. 

The state of Hesse has a similar system to Bavaria where a test is not needed to end the isolation early (unless the person works in a medical setting).

In North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, residents can end their Covid isolation on the fifth day if they get a negative test (carried out at a testing centre). Otherwise the isolation period continues until the 10th day, or until they get a negative test.

Close contacts of people infected with Covid (including household contacts) no longer have to quarantine in Germany, but they are advised to get tested regularly and monitor for symptoms, as well as reduce contacts for five days. 

As ever, check with your local authority for the detailed rules.

Travel

Germany recently provisionally dropped almost all of its Covid travel restrictions, making it much easier to enter the country. 

The changes mean that entry into Germany is now allowed for all travel purposes, including tourism. The move makes travel easier – and cheaper – for people coming from non-EU countries, particularly families who may have needed multiple Covid tests for children. 

People also no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test against Covid before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

However, if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ region, tougher rules are brought in. 

It is likely that travel rules could be reinstated again after summer or if the Covid situation gets worse so keep an eye on any developments. 

READ ALSO: Germany drops Covid entry restrictions for non-EU travellers

Vaccine mandate

The mandate making Covid vaccinations compulsory for medical staff remains in place. A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote in April

READ ALSO: Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health care workers

Workplaces

Masks are no longer mandatory in workplaces, unless it is in a setting where more risks groups are, such as hospitals or care homes. 

The government no longer requires people to work from home, but employers and employees can reach their own ‘home office’ arrangement.

Tests are also no longer mandatory, but workplaces can offer their employees regular tests. 

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