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HEALTH

Rising coronavirus cases in Germany are ‘worrying but manageable’, says Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) described the rising numbers of coronavirus infections in Germany as worrying, but still manageable, during a meeting Monday.

Rising coronavirus cases in Germany are 'worrying but manageable', says Merkel
Merkel speaking at a press conference in June. Photo: DPA

Merkel said that there would currently be no further relaxation of coronavirus rules across Germany, according to participants of the first virtual presidium meeting of Merkel’s centre right Christian Democrats (CDU) after the summer break.

This also applies to football games, which will not be played with spectators in September as had initially been anticipated. 

READ ALSO: German football fans hopes dampened as coronavirus cases rise

CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer emphasized at the same meeting that she wanted to get a grip on the rising coronavirus infection numbers without far-reaching measures if possible.

“Every effort must be made to prevent a second lockdown,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer, according to party sources. 

Priority should be given to the safest possible operation of schools and daycare centers, she said. The economy must also be supported in order to avoid higher unemployment, for example through extending the Kurzarbeit (reduced working hours) programme.

Merkel has a “fundamentally positive” attitude toward such plans, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

As of Monday August 17th, there have been a total of 225,201 coronavirus cases in Germany, 201,872 who reported themselves to have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been 9,236 deaths resulting from the virus. 

Chancellor Merkel and Germany’s 16 state ministers are planning a meeting for the coming week in order to discuss the current coronavirus situation, and how to come up with more consistent rules across the country for fighting the virus. 

READ ALSO: In numbers: What's the latest on the coronavirus situation in Germany?

No need for alarm

Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier (CDU) also warned against getting too alarmed about the current coronavirus figures, according to party sources. 

Germany no longer has a situation like it did at the beginning of the epidemic in March, he said, and called on the country to deal with the situation “calmly”.

Bouffier and also North Rhine-Westphalian premier Armin Laschet had made it clear during the discussions that they expected it would be necessary to live with the current situation for a long time.

READ ALSO: Germany sees highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases since May

In the meantime, Lower Saxony's state government announced it’s considering postponing its planned relaxation of rules. Night clubs, for example, will remain closed.

Originally, the next stage of the relaxation was to take effect on September 1st, Minister President Stephan Weil told the radio station Antenne Niedersachsen on Monday.

“But we are currently in an unstable situation”, the SPD politician continued. 

The next stage will therefore be postponed “at least” until September 14th – or longer, depending on the situation.


 

Member comments

  1. Why is the government still allowing people to travel internationally and partake in events of up to 150 people (and more due to protesters!) if they are so concerned?
    We can all recognise that the number of cases have increased because of this behaviour! Those of us who haven’t are still being put at a disadvantage and can’t work! Not fair!

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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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