Germany records rise in new Covid-19 cases amid talk of loosening restrictions

Germany records rise in new Covid-19 cases amid talk of loosening restrictions
Passersby in the centre of Celle, Lower Saxony, where face masks are mandatory. Photo: DPA
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded 11,869 new Covid-19 infections within one day, 1,662 more than a week ago on Thursday. It comes as state and federal leaders are discussing how to safely reopen public life.

The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) was also higher than the previous day (59.3), or 61.7 nationwide.

In addition, 385 more deaths were recorded within 24 hours. This is less than exactly one week ago: At that time, the RKI had recorded 10,207 new infections and 534 new deaths with or from the virus within 24 hours.

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A month ago on January 28th, the seven-day incidence stood at 98. Its previous high had been 197.6 on December 22nd. 

The peak of 1244 newly reported deaths had been reached on January 14th. In terms of new infections registered within 24 hours, the highest number of new infections (33,777) had been recorded on December 18th.

This graph shows the seven-day incidence in Germany over the past couple of months. Credit: DPA

What’s next for Germany?

As the debate on reopening public life gains momentum, German Finance Minister and Social Democratic (SPD) candidate for chancellor Olaf Scholz called for a lifting of restrictions to be tackled partly with at-home rapid tests. The first three were approved for use on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new at-home coronavirus tests

“The virus and its mutations will be with us for a while, I’m afraid. So we have to find ways to manage not having to live in lockdown forever. That’s why we could combine the next opening steps with rapid tests,” Scholz told the Rheinische Post newspaper ahead of the next federal-state consultations on March 3rd.

The meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premieres will discuss what comes after Germany’s current shutdown, set to stretch until March 7th.

Most states are currently working out individual plans to gradually open public life and reduce contact restrictions. 

On Wednesday German Chancellor Angela Merkel also advocated a gradual reopening with the aid of the new tests.

 “An intelligent opening strategy is inseparably linked with comprehensive rapid tests,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Scholz also called for a better organised vaccination campaign in Germany. “The task ahead of us is huge. Within a comparatively short time, we have to vaccinate about 60 million people twice, which is a mega project in terms of organisation and logistics,” he said.

“And now we – the federal government, the states and the local authorities – have to make all the preparations to ensure that this happens quickly and as smoothly as possible. Our current capacities are simply not sufficient.”

As of Thursday, a total of 1,910,863 people in Germany had received both a first and second dose of the vaccine according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

READ ALSO: How can Germany speed up its Covid-19 vaccination campaign?

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