‘Pandemic won’t rob us of our future,’ says German president

Shortly before the start of stricter lockdown measures on Wednesday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on people to stand together amid what he called necessary restrictions.

'Pandemic won't rob us of our future,' says German president
Steinmeier (SPD) speaking at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

“I am sure the responsibility we are showing now, the burdens we have to bear now and for some time to come, are not in vain. They bring us closer to the end of the pandemic,” he said at Berlin's Bellevue Palace on Monday.

“The coming weeks are a test for all of us.” 

Germany is a strong country, he said, because so many people are there for each other amid a grave crisis and are managing to rise above the tough circumstances. 

“I am quite sure the pandemic will not rob us of our future. We will overcome this crisis,” stressed the Social Democratic (SPD) politician. 

The latest lockdown

In the face of sharply rising infection and death rates, public and private life will be severely scaled down from this Wednesday.

Shops – except for those providing for daily needs such as supermarkets and pharmacies – will have to shut their doors. Schools are to be closed, or classes will be moved online. 

Private gatherings will be limited to one's own household and one other household, but in any case to a maximum of five people. Children up to 14 years of age are exempt.

Only over the Christmas period from December 24th to 26th are there relaxations, but not over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. On Silvester and into the New Year, there will be a ban gatherings as well as a ban on fireworks in crowded places.

READ ALSO: These are Germany's tough new lockdown measures

In Saxony, a state particularly affected by the second wave of the coronavirus, the lockdown already took effect on Monday.

The restrictions will apply until at least January 10th. Which measures will remain necessary following the harsh lockdown depend on how successfully Germany can bring coronavirus numbers down, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin on Monday. 

“This will always have to be a difficult, imperative process of consideration,” he said.

He has high hopes that the number of infections will decrease. But: “I think a comprehensive easing is very, very unlikely,” Seibert added. 

“January and February are always particularly difficult months in terms of respiratory infections.”

As long as there is not enough vaccine for everyone during the winter phase, “we will still have difficult days.”

'Bitterly serious'

The number of new coronavirus infections remains high. Within one day, 16,362 new cases were reported, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Monday morning.

This is about 4,000 cases more than last Monday, when the number of reported new infections was 12,332. The previous record had been reached on Friday with 29,875 reported cases. 

On Sundays and Mondays, the case numbers published by the RKI are usually lower, partly because less testing is done at the weekend. In addition, the health offices reported 188 new deaths within 24 hours.

A week ago, this figure was 147. The previous high of 598 deaths was reached on Friday.

Steinmeier called the situation “bitterly serious”, and on the verge of getting out of control.

“We cannot avoid drastic measures”. The top priority, he said, must be to reduce the number of infections as quickly as possible and then keep them at a low level.

“This can only succeed if we radically limit our contacts and encounters in the coming weeks,” said the President.

He added, “This must be done quickly and comprehensively. It must not get to the point where our health system collapses.”

Referring to the restrictions, Steinmeier said: “Celebrations can be made up for, and friends and relatives will still be happy about presents later. What counts now is to preserve health and save lives.”

READ ALSO: What exactly are Germany's Christmas meeting rules?


Member comments

  1. He is exactly, the pandamic is not robbing us of anything, the government’s reaction to this ‘pandemic’ is robbing us of our future.
    Make a stand. This.will.not.end.with.a.vaccine!

  2. He is exactly correct, the pandamic is not robbing us of anything, the government’s reaction to this ‘pandemic’ is robbing us of our future.
    Make a stand. This.will.not.end.with.a.vaccine!

  3. More complete over reaction about a virus with a 99.95% survival rate.

    Yes it’s dangerous for some, but cancer kills more every day.

    How much suffering will come from the economic damage across the world done by these lockdowns?

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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.