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ANALYSIS

Fact check: Just how bad is the current coronavirus situation in Germany?

There is talk of an imminent lockdown in Germany as daily coronavirus cases go up again. What's going on? We look at the facts in the current situation.

Fact check: Just how bad is the current coronavirus situation in Germany?
People shopping in Cologne on Friday. Photo: DPA

What's the latest?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a new high in confirmed new Covid-19 cases on Friday: 29,875 new infections were registered within 24 hours.

This is around 6,000 more compared to Thursday, when the previous record of 23,679 was reported.

The RKI on Friday said 598 people had died within a day. The previous daily Covid-19 record for deaths was reached on Wednesday when 590 people were reported to have died.

READ ALSO: Germany mulls three-week lockdown from December 20th

 

Are numbers really consistently rising?

Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians and experts said that the shutdown, which started in Germany on November 2nd, had halted the exponential growth of infections. Daily infection numbers then levelled out at around 20,000 or just under.

However, now a clear increase in the number of cases can be observed in Germany since December 4th, according to the RKI. A week ago, an average of just under 18,000 cases were reported within seven days. Currently, the figure is more than 20,000.

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier said: “The exponential growth is starting again. And that means: we have to act urgently.”

RKI boss Lothar Wieler on Thursday also warned that it was possible for the numbers to tip into exponential growth once again.

The number of deaths in connection with Covid-19 also reached a new high of 598 on Friday morning. In total, there have been 20,970 registered deaths related to the virus in Germany so far.

The chart below by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,shows the daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Germany.

Where are most people becoming infected?

Since local health offices are overloaded, it is only possible to trace where people are becoming infected for a small proportion of cases.

The RKI writes of “numerous clusters, especially in households and old people's and nursing homes, but also in occupational settings, in community facilities and starting from religious events”.

A major problem is the increasing number of outbreaks in facilities for the elderly. Alarmingly, there are currently almost twice as many outbreaks in these facilities than in August, RKI boss Lothar Wieler said.

It's also reflected in the age distribution of those getting Covid-19.

While the numbers in younger age groups are stagnating or slightly decreasing, they are increasing in the older population. In the last calendar week, for example, the number of confirmed new infections in the group of people over 80 years of age was 325 per 100,000 inhabitants; at the beginning of November, the figure was still 171.

Since the risk of a severe course of the disease increases steadily from the age of 50 to 60, the many infections in the older age groups also drives up the number of deaths and seriously ill people.

By far the most deaths (85 percent) in Germany occur in people over 70, and the risk is particularly high in the group of people over 80.

More cases are happening at old people's homes in Germany. Photo: DPA

How many people are in intensive care units (ICU)?

The number of Covid-19 patients in ICU beds also continues to rise. At noon on Thursday, hospitals in Germany reported 4,339 coronavirus patients who were so critically ill that they had to be treated in intensive care. According to the report, more than half of those affected (58 percent) are on ventilation.

In the entire period of the pandemic, just under one in four patients who were treated in intensive care with Covid-19 in Germany died. Like the other data, this also emerges from surveys by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi).

Of Germany's 27,295 registered intensive care beds, 22,542 (83 percent) were occupied at noon on Thursday; 4,753 (17 percent) of the beds were vacant at that time. In some regions of Bavaria and Saxony, there are four, five or even six Covid-19 patients per 10 intensive care beds, indicating how serious the situation is.

Is the picture bad across Germany?

It's important to note that there are big differences within Germany. In most federal states, the increase in the number of cases has slowed down since November 9th and stabilised at a high level.

However, there are three noticeable exceptions: In Saxony-Anhalt, the number of cases has risen significantly in recent weeks, in Thuringia very significantly, and in Saxony most strongly.

READ ALSO: These maps will help you understand the state of the pandemic in Germany

The DPA map below shows the districts with the highest number of infections per 100,000 people in the last seven days.

With 313 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days, the state of Saxony now has the highest incidence rate in Germany – ahead of Thuringia (195) and Bavaria (188). The lowest values were reported by the state of Schleswig-Holstein (68), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (71) and Lower Saxony (79).

For Germany as a whole, the RKI counted on average 156 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.

The goal of the federal and state governments is to reduce this figure to below 50. This would enable health authorities to retrace chains of infection and isolate people who have had contact with infected people. in a more targeted manner.

How many infections have been documented in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic?

The total number of confirmed infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany has risen to 1,272,078.

However, there's likely to be many undetected cases, especially since the government called on people with cold or flu symptoms to self-isolate rather than automatically put themselves forward for a coronavirus test. That's because labs and staff have been struggling to cope in winter when many people pick up respiratory infections similar to Covid-19

According to estimates, around 942,100 people have since recovered from the acute infection. However, some of them suffer from long-term consequences, so-called 'long-Covid'.

Why do the numbers keep rising?

The RKI says the reproduction number or R number has been fluctuating around 1. That means that on average, each person infected with Covid-19 infects one other person.

But as the number of infected people is currently very high in Germany, “this results in a high number of new infections every day”.

To view more charts, maps and graphs on Germany's Covid-19 situation you can visit Our World in Data.

Member comments

  1. How many had commorbities how many were already sick with other problems. How many were over 80. You never hear any details. In the end is the vaccine going to be compulsory. Some people are going to make a fortune out of this. Gates and his cronies are already talking about the next pandemic

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COVID-19 RULES

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Many Covid restrictions have been dropped in Germany, but some rules remain in place. And as infections increase again, it's important to be aware of what you should do if you get Covid.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules in place across German states

Germany has relaxed or changed many Covid restrictions in recent months. However, with Covid infections rocketing again, people are reminding themselves of what rules remain in place, and what they have to do if they get a positive test.

Here’s a quick roundup of what you should know. 

Face masks

Covid masks have to be worn when travelling on public transport, including planes departing to and from Germany. 

They also have to be worn in places where there are more vulnerable people, such as care homes, hospitals and doctor offices. 

Masks are not mandatory anymore in shops (including supermarkets) and restaurants, but individual businesses can enforce the rule so watch out for signs on the door. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s current Covid mask rules

FFP2 masks have become the standard in Germany, but in some cases other medical masks are sufficient.

There are no longer any entry rules to public venues such as the 3G or 2G rule, meaning that people had to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test. 

However, they could return in autumn if the infection protection laws are adapted, and if the Covid situation gets worse.

Mandatory isolation 

The rules on isolation differ from state to state, but there is one general requirement: those who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

If you get a positive result at home, you should go to a test centre and undergo a rapid antigen test. If it is positive, the quarantine obligation kicks in. If it is negative, you have to get a PCR test.

If you have Covid symptoms, you should contact your doctor, local health authorities or the non-emergency medical on-call service on 116 117. They can advise or whether you should get a PCR test. 

Across German states, the isolation period lasts 10 days, but – as we mentioned above – there are differences on how it can end earlier. 

In Berlin, for instance, it can be shortened from the fifth day with a negative test if you have been symptom free for 48 hours. If this isn’t the case, the isolation is extended until you have been symptom-free for 48 hours and tested negative. But you can leave without a negative test after 10 days. 

A positive Covid test.

A positive Covid test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Anyone who tests positive for Covid using a rapid test at a testing centre can have a free PCR test to confirm whether they have Covid-19. If the PCR test is negative, there is no obligation to go into quarantine.

In Bavaria, the isolation period is five days after the first positive test. For isolation to end on day five you must be symptom free for at least 48 hours. Otherwise, isolation is extended for 48 hours at a time until the maximum of 10 days. 

A test-to-release is not needed to end the isolation, unless the person works in a medical setting. 

READ ALSO: Germany sets out new Covid isolation rules

After isolation, Bavaria recommends that you wear an FFP2 mask in public places indoors and reduce contact for an extra five days. 

The state of Hesse has a similar system to Bavaria where a test is not needed to end the isolation early (unless the person works in a medical setting).

In North Rhine-Westphalia and Hamburg, residents can end their Covid isolation on the fifth day if they get a negative test (carried out at a testing centre). Otherwise the isolation period continues until the 10th day, or until they get a negative test.

Close contacts of people infected with Covid (including household contacts) no longer have to quarantine in Germany, but they are advised to get tested regularly and monitor for symptoms, as well as reduce contacts for five days. 

As ever, check with your local authority for the detailed rules.

Travel

Germany recently provisionally dropped almost all of its Covid travel restrictions, making it much easier to enter the country. 

The changes mean that entry into Germany is now allowed for all travel purposes, including tourism. The move makes travel easier – and cheaper – for people coming from non-EU countries, particularly families who may have needed multiple Covid tests for children. 

People also no longer have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test against Covid before coming to Germany – the so-called 3G rule. 

However, if a country is classed as a ‘virus variant’ region, tougher rules are brought in. 

It is likely that travel rules could be reinstated again after summer or if the Covid situation gets worse so keep an eye on any developments. 

READ ALSO: Germany drops Covid entry restrictions for non-EU travellers

Vaccine mandate

The mandate making Covid vaccinations compulsory for medical staff remains in place. A vaccine mandate that would have affected more of the population in Germany was rejected by the Bundestag in a vote in April

READ ALSO: Germany’s top court approves Covid vaccine mandate for health care workers

Workplaces

Masks are no longer mandatory in workplaces, unless it is in a setting where more risks groups are, such as hospitals or care homes. 

The government no longer requires people to work from home, but employers and employees can reach their own ‘home office’ arrangement.

Tests are also no longer mandatory, but workplaces can offer their employees regular tests. 

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