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‘Football-Ischgl’: Bayern eager to stop next coronavirus hotbed at Super Cup

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists the German giants are eager to stop Thursday's UEFA Super Cup showdown in Budapest turning into a super spreader event due to a high infection rate of the coronavirus there.

'Football-Ischgl': Bayern eager to stop next coronavirus hotbed at Super Cup
The Super Cup itself on display in Tallin, Estonia in August 2018. Photo: DPA

On Monday, Bavaria's premier minister Markus Söder warned against the match in Budapest becoming a “football-Ischgl”, referring to the Austrian ski resort where thousands of holidaymakers were infected with the virus at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe.

Söder added that amid the pandemic “I really get a stomach ache when it
comes to the Super Cup” between Bayern and Europa League holders Sevilla in
Budapest.

READ ALSO: Bavarian leader Söder has 'stomach ache' over Super Cup coronavirus fears

Rummenigge echoed Söder's comments on Wednesday, insisting Bayern Munich
have “every interest in ensuring that no Ischgl of football takes place” in Budapest.

“I think everyone's stomachs are churning. The game will take place in a city with an rate of infection of over 100 (per 100,000 inhabitants), which is twice as high as that in Munich,” Rummenigge told broadcaster ZDF.

“That has to be taken seriously.”

Up to 20,000 spectators would be allowed by UEFA into Budapest's Puskas Arena in a piloting project to test the return of fans into stadiums.

However, Budapest's mayor Gergely Karacsony wants the game played without
fans.

“If I had the legal means to decide that, I would let the game take place behind closed doors,” he told Hungarian newspaper Nepszava.

Rummenigge anticipates “less than a thousand” Bayern fans will actually make the journey and only around 500 Sevilla fans are expected.

“We have a great interest that they come back healthy and that nobody in Budapest gets infected,” emphasised Rummenigge.

He has promised a “serious and disciplined” approach with both Bayern and Sevilla offering travelling fans Covid-19 tests.

READ ALSO: 'Numbers are too high': Munich tightens coronavirus mask rules and contact restrictions

The Bayern chief also pointed out that to “all those who say that you really have to be extremely careful with the subject. We are”.

Bayern initially had an allocation of 4,500 tickets but hundreds of fans opted not to travel after the German government declared Budapest a risk zone.

European champions Bayern are also flying to Budapest with a small delegation of officials after being heavily criticised when a group of senior figures sat bunched together in the stands for Friday's 8-0 rout of Schalke.

Rummenigge was among the group not wearing masks and seated close together in the VIP stand for the opening game of the new Bundesliga season.

“At the next game we will keep the desired distance and wear masks, no problem,” said the 64-year-old.

READ ALSO: These are the countries and regions on Germany's 'high risk' coronavirus list

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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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