How can Germany bring its infection rate back down?

How can Germany bring its infection rate back down?
A discarded mask in Lutherstadt. Photo: DPA
Despite months of restrictions, coronavirus figures in Germany are only coming down at a very slow rate. One expert gives his view on why.

Daily new infections are slightly lower than before Christmas period, while the number of infections in seven days per 100,000 inhabitants is also currently falling slightly: from 166.6 on January 10th to 136.0 on January 17, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). 

The peak value was reached on December 22nd when an incidence of 198 was recorded. But it is unclear whether this trend will last.

The restrictions so far have saved Germany from a situation like in Ireland or other countries, “but still did not bring about the hoped-for clear trend reversal,” says Hajo Zeeb from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen. 

“For this, the contact reduction in the population as a whole has obviously not been sufficient,” he added.

Private behaviour, Zeeb says, plays the decisive role alongside one's job and the associated journeys, such as with public transport. “And that's where we're not as consistent as we were in the early days of the pandemic.”

The nationwide seven-day R-value has been hovering around one for months, meaning one infected person infects about one other person. Only when it is below 1 for a longer period of time does the incidence of infection subside.

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Among the most important tools against the pandemic, Zeeb argues for “clearly and decisively more home office again.” He also advocates temporary company closures at least in severely affected regions, and the increased, mandated use of FFP-2 masks.

Overall, the number of infections reported since the pandemic began rose to 2,033,518 on Sunday. In addition, a total of 46 419 Corona-related deaths have been recorded. The number of daily reported deaths has not yet noticeably decreased overall.

On Sunday, according to data from the responsible Divi Registry, 4,971 Covid-19 patients were treated intensively. There is a small ray of hope there: The number has been declining since Jan. 3, when about 5,700 of these patients were registered.

Zeeb sees vaccinations as crucial to the length of the lockdown.

“I expect at least another six to eight weeks of restrictions,” he said adding that they should be relaxed “with caution.”

SEE ALSO: German president urges firms to allow staff to work from home 'whenever possible'


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