Germany logs new record of daily Covid-19 deaths amid worries of ‘pandemic fatigue’

The number of deaths recorded in Germany within 24 hours reached 1,244 on Thursday - the highest so far in the pandemic.

Germany logs new record of daily Covid-19 deaths amid worries of 'pandemic fatigue'
A quiet Stuttgart street on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

What's the latest?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control on Thursday logged 25,164 new coronavirus infections within a day. Within that time 1,244 people in Germany died from or with the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in the pandemic to 43,881.

The previous record of 1,188 new deaths was reported on Friday January 8th.

The highest number of new infections registered within 24 hours – 33,777 – was reported on December 18th.

However, the interpretation of data is still patchy at the moment because of delays in testing and recording over Christmas and New Year.

The country is also bracing for the effects of people socialising and travelling over the holidays, which should become clearer in mid-January.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI has logged a total of 1,978 590 confirmed Covid-19 infections in Germany.

READ ALSO: Germany army offers 10,000 soldiers to help coronavirus fight

What's the picture across Germany?

The average number of new infections per 100,000 residents reported to the health authorities within seven days (seven-day incidence) in Germany was 151.2 on Thursday morning. This number is well above the critical threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents which authorities are aiming for.

The previous incidence peak (197.6) was logged on December 22nd. However, the differences between the federal states are enormous: the highest incidences are in Thuringia with 310.4 and Saxony with 292.4. The lowest number is in Bremen with 84.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows where in Germany has the highest seven-day-incidence as of January 13th. 

The nationwide seven-day reproductive number (R number) was 1.02, according to the RKI's latest report on Wednesday. This means that 100 Covid-infected people infect on average 102 other people. The value represents the infection rate 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the incidence of infection is decreasing.

The RKI also states that on January 13th, 5,185 Covid-19 patients were in intensive care across Germany, with more than 80 percent of ICU beds occupied.

According to the latest figures, a total of 758,093 people in Germany have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Current contact rules 'not working as well as in spring'

Germany fared better than many other European countries during the first Covid-19 wave in spring but it has been hit hard by the second wave.
The nation of 83 million people, the EU's most populous, imposed another round of restrictions on Monday January 11th to limit social contacts and help hospitals cope with a surge in patients.
The measures are in place until at least January 31st but they are likely to be extended.

Epidemiologist Dirk Brockmann of the RKI said people needed to reduce their social contacts further to get numbers down.

He told broadcaster ZDF that the current current contact restrictions are not working as well as the lockdown last spring, as can be seen from the mobility data.

At that time, mobility had dropped by 40 percent within a week.

He said fewer people have been travelling and moving around since December, but it's not enough.

“That also has a lot to do with pandemic fatigue,” Brockmann said.

He added that it was important to bring down the coronavirus numbers as soon as possible and not rely on people getting vaccinated.

“One thing is clear, vaccinating does not help us get out at this level where at least 1,000 people die every day,” he said.

Vaccination is an important component against the pandemic, he said, but will only help in the medium term when many people have received their jabs.

EXPLAINED: What's gone wrong with Germany's vaccine strategy?

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German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

The Covid pandemic is continuing to cause problems around Germany, with concerns that the number of patients needing treatment will rise in the coming weeks.

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

In its weekly Covid report, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said that confirmed infections appeared to be rising in some German states, and falling in others.

But experts warned that the situation remained tense, with many infections not reported. 

Therefore, in the coming weeks, “hospitalisations, an increase in intensive care treatment and deaths are to be expected, especially among the elderly”, said the RKI.

People over the age of 80 “continue to be most affected by severe courses of the disease”, the experts said in their report. 

The incidence of infections is continuing to rise for this age group, and the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in medical treatment facilities as well as in old people’s and nursing homes is going up.

READ ALSO: Which Covid rules are likely to return to Germany in autumn?

The number of patients with Covid-19 being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) is also rising slightly. In the previous week, the number was reported to be around 1,330. And on Thursday July 28th, 1,550 people were in ICUs in Germany with 484 receiving ventilation treatment, according to the DIVI intensive care register. 

The number of deaths in connection with the virus is currently around just over 400 per week. The RKI says this trend is a plateau.

When it comes to the overall picture of Covid in Germany, the RKI said there was a “sideways movement rather than a decreasing trend”.

Last week, the nationwide 7-day incidence decreased slightly compared to the previous week. The overall picture shows falling incidences in most western German states and Berlin, with incidences still rising slightly in the other eastern German states and Bavaria.

The RKI estimates there’s been a total of 800,000 to 1.5 million people with Covid (who also have symptoms) in the past week alone in Germany.

Last week experts warned that they expected the Covid situation to get worse in the coming weeks as many schools in Germany return after the summer break.

READ ALSO: Germany’s summer Covid wave set to get worse

The Omicron sub-variant BA.5, which has dominated in Germany since mid-June, has almost completely displaced other variants. It accounts for 89 percent of samples in the past week, the RKI said.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned people against underestimating getting Covid again.

The SPD politician pointed out that it was very easy to become infected with BA.5 – even for those who were infected with a previous type.

He warned that many could become seriously ill or die, plus there’s the risk of picking up Long Covid.

“Therefore, we have to solve the problem not by constant infection, but by better vaccines,” Lauterbach said.

‘Call things as they are’

Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended himself against his choice of words when describing the possibility of a new dangerous Covid variant emerging in autumn. 

In an interview with Bild newspaper in April he said: “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious Omicron variant that is as deadly as Delta – that would be an absolute killer variant.”

He was slammed for his dramatic choice of words. 

This week Lauterbach said: “I use few vocabulary that is apocalyptic. But sometimes you have to call things as they are.”

If there were a virus that linked the contagion of the BA.5 variant with the severe course of a Delta variant, “that would be a killer variant”, he maintained.

But he stressed that he had “not said that such a variant is definitely coming, but that we have to be prepared for such a variant”.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister calls on under 60s to get next Covid jab