Chairman of the World Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, said a lockdown could become necessary if the number of new daily infections rises to 20,000 per day.
On Friday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) registered 11,242 new cases within a day. This was 45 fewer than Thursday, when the highest number of new Covid-19 infections in Germany was recorded since the start of the pandemic.
According to the RKI, the total number of cases recorded in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 403,291. A total of 9,954 people have died, with 49 deaths recorded within the last 24 hours. The number of people who've recovered from the virus is estimated to be 306,100.
The RKI dubbed the situation in Germany on Thursday “very serious”. In some regions, an uncontrollable outbreak could occur, warned the institute's president Lothar Wieler. However, there is a chance to slow down the further spread of the virus, he added.
But according to Montgomery of the World Medical Association a shutdown on public life would have to take place if infection chains cannot be traced. This would happen if the number of cases keep rising, he said.
At the moment he said there had to be regional lockdowns along the lines of the current shutdown in Berchtesgaden, southern Bavaria.
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Residents there can only leave their homes for essential reasons, such as for work or exercise, for two weeks.
Montgomery told RP Online: “We must react consistently in the event of local outbreaks.”
In Germany, the implementation of curfews or lockdowns is the responsibility of the individual states.
Some countries in Europe have been experimenting with the idea of so-called ‘mini-lockdowns' which act as a circuit breaker for rising coronavirus case rates.
The aim is to have a fairly short shutdown period to avoid a more significant lockdown in future.
No return to 'normal' travel– even in 2021
The medical president also dampened hopes for a vaccine to ease the situation in the near future.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) expects a vaccine in mid 2021. “But it will take two or three years for the entire population to be vaccinated,” said Montgomery, because “there are neither enough doses nor enough staff to vaccinate everyone at once”.
The population will have to live with restrictions for a long while yet. “We will have to live with and deal with the virus for years to come: keep your distance, wash your hands, wear masks,” said Montgomery.
“We will not have a summer holiday like we're used to in 2021 either,” the expert added.