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LIVING IN GERMANY

This is where people in Germany are becoming infected with coronavirus

Where are the most common spots for contracting Covid-19 in Germany? A new study by health officials sheds some light.

This is where people in Germany are becoming infected with coronavirus
A family head to the beach in Schleswig-Holstein earlier this month. Photo: DPA

We all know there's a risk of picking up a coronavirus infection whenever we're around other people.

But where are the riskiest places? A new study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control has investigated where people in Germany have been picking up the virus.

What are the results?

The study found private households and nursing homes are the spots where coronavirus occurs most often.

In an outbreak inside a home, there were on average 3.2 people infected at any one time. They are likely to be members of the same household or family.

The RKI said outbreaks within families and the home environment “do not necessarily lead to many subsequent cases and only have a few cases per outbreak, but obviously occur very frequently”.

The second most frequent spot for outbreaks is nursing homes. “Living together often seems to lead to transmissions,” the RKI states.

In these facilities, an outbreak infected an average of almost 19 people at one time.

According to the study, the risk of infection is also particularly high in the case of an outbreak in a refugee home – an average of 21 cases were recorded per outbreak, more than anywhere else.

READ ALSO: These are Germany's new coronavirus hotspots

Schools and hotels not hotspots

The RKI study found schools do not play a large role in coronavirus infections – at least not so far. Researchers said there have been only 31 outbreaks and 150 infections so far in schools. However, this could become more of a problem now that more children are returning to the classroom after the summer holidays.

READ ALSO: School headteachers in German state sound alarm over 'unrealistic' coronavirus measures

Restaurants, hotels and offices have also been secondary locations so far. According to the RKI, outbreaks in trains and on other forms of public transport are difficult to identify.

Meanwhile, health officials provide a positive outlook for fans of the fresh air: the risk of infection outside is relatively low, “as suggested by the lack of outbreaks in zoos and animal parks” and with only three cases registered so far after picnics.

The RKI points out that the source of the infection has not been identified with complete certainty in all cases recorded so people should remain cautious wherever they are.

Researchers looked at more than 55,000 patients for the study – that's 27 percent of all reported cases in Germany.

Vocabulary

Private households – (die) Privathaushalte

Old people's homes/retirement homes/nursing homes – (die) Altenheime

Refugee home – (das) Flüchtlingsheim

Fresh air – (die) Frischluft

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

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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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