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HEALTH

Germany sets record of over 30,000 daily coronavirus infections

Germany on Thursday reported a daily record of new coronavirus infections of more than 30,000, as it struggles to cope with the outbreak with a new partial lockdown.

Germany sets record of over 30,000 daily coronavirus infections
A man walks through Duisburg's shut down city centre on Thursday. Photo: DPA

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, which is managing reporting for the country in the pandemic, revised its initial total of 26,923 for the previous 24-hour period saying around 3,500 more cases had come to light.

“For technical reasons some 3,500 cases from (southwestern state)
Baden-Württemberg were not reported. The problem has been fixed and the cases are being reported today,” it said on its website.

Germany has recorded a total of 24,125 deaths, up by about 700 in one day.

Long considered a European example for effective management of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany had managed to keep infection and death rates relatively low for several months.

But beginning with end of summer holidays and the onset of colder weather, the virus began spreading at an exponential rate and the system of testing and tracking could not keep up with the outbreak.

A shutdown of restaurants, bars and cultural venues that was lenient compared to those of many European partners from November 2nd failed to get the spread of the virus under control.

From Wednesday, the country has been on partial lockdown with non-essential shops and schools closed.

READ ALSO: 'It feels like a Sunday': What residents think of Germany's new coronavirus measures

The new curbs will apply until at least January 10th, with companies also urged to allow employees to work from home or offer extended company holidays, under the measures agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel with leaders of Germany's 16 states on Sunday.

Germans are urged to limit their social contacts to another household, with contact limits to be eased slightly between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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