Coronavirus: German doctors call for tougher nationwide rules on events and parties

Germany's main doctor's union is pushing for stricter nationwide rules to be put in place for social events to try and contain the spread of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: German doctors call for tougher nationwide rules on events and parties
A couple getting married in Frankfurt in May. Photo: DPA

The number of coronavirus cases has been rising over the past weeks in Germany to levels last seen in May. And there are big concerns that local outbreaks linked to celebrations, such as events, weddings or other parties, are fuelling the spike.

Now doctors' association, the Marburger Bund, says states should agree on uniform tighter rules for celebrations and parties in order to contain the further spread of coronavirus.

“In order to reduce the risk of infection, in autumn and winter as well, the states should soon agree on uniform rules for private and public celebrations of all kinds,” chairman Susanne Johna told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group on Tuesday August 18th.

She said it was important that there were limits to the number of guests and concepts in place for ventilation during indoor gatherings.

Health Minister Jens Spahn, of the centre-right Christian Democrats, said on Monday that celebrations are one of the greatest sources of danger when it comes to the spread of coronavirus in Germany, along with people returning from travel.

Spahn warned that stricter event bans or limits could be put in place due to the increasing cases.

In some states, indoor events with several hundred people are allowed again.

But the Marburger Bund raised concerns about large numbers of people in closed spaces. “The greater the number of people celebrating indoors, the more likely it is that one person will infect the others,” warned Johna.

If the number of infections continues to rise, 150 guests at a family celebration or an indoor party would be too many, she argued.

READ ALSO: More guests allowed at weddings as North Rhine-Westphalia relaxes corona rules

Many people are careless, Johna said, because they look at the high rate of those who recover from Covid-19. But this also includes people who suffer from severe long-term damage. “There are estimates that the proportion of patients suffering from Covid-19 with secondary damage is in the upper single-digit range,” said Johna.

READ ALSO: Germany warns local coronavirus outbreaks are 'mostly connected with celebrations'

Well over 1,000 new cases

On Tuesday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 1,390 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours.

A total of 225,404 people in Germany have contracted the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, and 9,236 patients have died. Four deaths were reported on Monday. According to RKI estimates, around 203,000 people have survived the infection.

The reproductive rate, which measures how many people someone with Covid goes onto infect, has fallen from 1.21 to 1.11. However, this is still above the threshold of 1, above which an infected person will theoretically infect more than one other person.

The R number reflects the course of the infection around one and a half weeks earlier. The so-called seven-day R, which is less subject to daily fluctuations, stands at 1.04.

In the past month, the trend of a slowdown in the incidence of infections in Germany has been reversed, with the daily number of new infections rising for several weeks in a row. 

IN NUMBERS – What's the latest on the coronavirus situation in Germany?

Around 8,000 new infections have been registered in Germany in the past seven days. From August 4-10th, the figure was 6,148, compared to 5,112 new infections the week before.

At the peak of the infection rate in Germany in mid-April, the number of new infections registered per day exceeded 6,000 and there were several tens of thousands per week.

Authorities are desperate to keep numbers down so health care services are not overrun. They also want to avoid a second lockdown which would heavily impact people's livelihoods and the economy.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for a second lockdown amid rise in coronavirus cases?



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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