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‘The second coronavirus wave has already hit Germany,’ doctors warn

Hospitals across Germany have been preparing for an increased number of coronavirus patients, medical representatives say.

'The second coronavirus wave has already hit Germany,' doctors warn
Shoppers walking in Cologne in April after the loosening of coronavirus restrictions. Photo: DPA

The second coronavirus wave feared by many has already hit Germany, according to the Marburger Bund medical association, the trade union which represents the professional and political interests of all physicians employed in the Bundesrepublik as well as medical students.

“We are already in a second, flat rising wave,” said the association's chairwoman Susanne Johna.

The numbers are not, however, comparable to what Germany saw at the height of the epidemic in March and April, when at times there were thousands of new cases per day.

Nevertheless, the amount of new infections is increasing. “This means that there is a danger that we will squander the success we have achieved so far in Germany in a combination of repression and a longing for normality,” warned Johna.

Hospitals are prepared for a second wave, the head of the medical association said. In contrast to the first wave, hospital beds are not to be kept free on a flat-rate basis this time, but according to demand.

“As the pandemic is building up slowly, we must make treatment options available for Covid-19 patients in stages, i.e. introduce a staggered provision over time,” said Johna.

In practice, according to the Marburger Bund, a smaller number of intensive care beds will be kept available in stage one. If these are occupied, stage two will come into effect 24 hours later and the capacity in intensive care units will be expanded.

“This will continue step by step until, in the highest alarm and expansion stage, all intensive care capacities available for Covid-19 patients are exhausted,” said Johna.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Who is and who isn't wearing a face mask?

'Face mask saves lives'

According to the Robert Koch Institute the latest available figures as of Tuesday August 4th show there have been 210,402 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases and 9,148 deaths in Germany.

In 24 hours there were around 500 new cases. Rising numbers have been fuelling worries about the second coronavirus wave.

Covid-19-related outbreaks have been happening in various settings, including agricultural companies, nursing homes and hospitals, facilities for asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as in context of religious or family events.

Authorities have also raised concerns about demonstrations where safety rules are ignored and parties.

Johna urged people to comply with hygiene rules and to wear masks. She compared the mask rule with the introduction of enforced seat belt wearing in cars, which was also met with fierce resistance at the time.

READ ALSO: How face masks have helped slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Germany

Just as the seat belt saves lives, “the mouth covering also saves lives”, said Johna.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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