Germany is entering Covid-19 third wave, warns health expert

Health expert Karl Lauterbach, of Germany's Social Democrats, says Germany is at the beginning of the third wave due to virus mutations spreading.

Germany is entering Covid-19 third wave, warns health expert
Police ordering people to wear a mask in Berlin during the recent sunny weather. Photo: DPA

After a phase of falling cases, the coronavirus infection rate has been rising in Germany. On Tuesday the number of cases per 100,000 residents in seven days stood at 60.5 – up from an incidence of around 55-57 the previous week.

Lauterbach, who has become a high profile voice on health in Germany during the crisis, said this signalled the start of a third wave – even though Germany has not yet left the shutdown put in place to stem the second wave.

“We are not yet in the middle of the third wave of infections, but it has begun and cannot be stopped,” Lauterbach told the Passauer Neue Presse.

Germany's states are aiming to get down to a stable 7-day incidence rate of under 35 cases per 100,000 before more coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Lauterbach said, “I believe that if we enter the third wave so early now, we will not be able to reach the incidence figure of 35 in many places.”

Reopening steps would then have to be pushed back, according to Lauterbach.

The Robert Koch Institute said last week that the Covid variant first discovered in England was responsible for around 22 percent of cases in Germany.

As temperatures creep up in Germany, many may be hopeful that the warmer weather will ease the infection situation.

But Lauterbach said this would not make a difference.

“The problem will not be solved by better weather,” he said. “It will not push back the British variant B.1.1.7. The new variants of the virus will prevail.”

On the topic of school openings, Lauterbach has urged caution. Most states in Germany allowed some pupils to return to the classroom this week.

“From my point of view, it would make sense to open the schools only if the testing of children with antigen self-tests is guaranteed – and these are not even approved yet,” he told the newspapers in the Funke-Mediengruppe.

It must be possible to test children twice a week in alternating classes. That would be the prerequisite for a responsible return to face-to-face teaching, he stressed.

READ ALSO: 'More people will become ill': Germany facing touch battle against Covid-19 variants

In view of the concerns about a third coronavirus wave, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday advocated for a cautious strategy for reopening public life in three stages.

Opening steps have to be introduced wisely, coupled with increased testing, Merkel told her party colleagues.

But any hopes for a quick opening were dampened later by government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“The good development that gave us daily falling infection figures over a longer period of time is over at the moment. The numbers are rising again,” he said.

The share of the British virus variant in cases is 20 to 25 percent – and this will increase, he said.

Member comments

  1. Any reason to extend the lockdown!…start peppering the negativity now just in time for the upcoming meeting to decide what (doesn’t) happen next. Protect the vulnerable and stop punishing those who are young, healthy and in desperate need of a way out of this badly mismanaged situation. Let’s not forget the piles upon piles of vaccines sitting at the airport in Berlin – expiring because there’s zero peripheral vision and ability to be policy flexible on behalf of the government.

  2. Agreed, Keri!! Also, claims that warm weather will not affect the virus are absurd; it did last year, and it also affects other coronaviruses. The British variant mutated this winter and has never existed in warm weather conditions! How does anyone think they know how it will respond to changes in ambient temperature or UV?

    1. Excellent point about the weather! I agree. Many German scientists are also saying the gov shouldn’t build a re-opening plan based on incidence rates & R values but look what they just put out in advance of next week’s meeting? A 4 phase plan based on both of those things! It’s a frustrating time for sure…

  3. Please enough of Fearmongering you guys have gained enough popularity by creating fear. at least people shall come out in spring and summer and also vaccinate whoever is ready to take the stocked vaccine which is not being taken in the priority group.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now