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LATEST: Germany reports 6,868 new coronavirus infections as more hotspots declared

On Tuesday morning, Germany recorded 6,868 new coronavirus infections within the past 24 hours.

LATEST: Germany reports 6,868 new coronavirus infections as more hotspots declared
A woman with a facemask at the Marktplatz in Aachen, one of Germany's current hotspots. Photo: DPA

The figure is considerably higher than the 4,122 cases registered one week ago. 

The number of new daily infections reached 7,830 on Saturday, the third consecutive record since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. 

However, the current figures can only be compared with those from the spring to a limited extent, because considerably more tests are now being carried out – and thus more infections are being detected.

READ ALSO: More than 100 districts declared risk zones in Germany: What you need to know

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, at least 373,167 people in Germany have been infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus, according to RKI.

There have been 9,836 deaths resulting from the virus, with 47 within the last 24 hours. A total of 298,300 people have reported themselves to have recovered.

According to the RKI management report of Monday, the reproduction rate, or R-value for short, was 1.35 in Germany (down from 1.44 the previous day). 

This means that 10 people with coronavirus infect on average 13 to 14 other people. The R-value reflects the course of infection about one and a half weeks before.

Situation around Germany

As the map below shows, a few regions around Germany are particularly affected. The Bavarian district Berchtesgadener Land went into a lockdown as its seven-day incidence of infections climbed to the highest level in Germany, or 272.8 cases per 100,000 residents. 

The RKI considers city or district to be a risk area if infections climb above a value of 50.

This graph from DPA shows Germany's current hotspots as of Tuesday morning.

As of Tuesday morning, the entire Ruhr Area in northwest Germany was also catagorised as a risk area, with Cologne showing a value of 97.8. The cities of Aachen, Solingen, Gelsenkirchen and Herne also had values over 100.

In the meantime, the President of the German Teachers' Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, called for class sizes to be reduced in coronavirus hotspots.

“At the current values we should return to alternating classes with reduced operation,” he told the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung on Tuesday.

He added that he does not yet know of any schools in Germany who have been following this model, which was frequently used as schools reopened following the lockdown in March and April. 

A Germany-wide debate on sealing off hotspots, such as Berchtesgadener Land in southern Bavaria, also arose on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Should Germany impose border controls as as Covid-19 rates rise across Europe?

In light of the rising infections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently made an appeal for people in Germany to stay home as much as possible.

“Meet with significantly fewer people, whether outside or at home,” said Merkel. “Give up any trip that is not really essential, any celebration that is not really essential.”

 

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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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