‘Third wave has already begun’: Germany records sharp increase in Covid-19 cases

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded a 20 percent rise in new coronavirus cases compared to a week ago on Thursday, leading its director to warn that a third wave of infections had started.

‘Third wave has already begun’: Germany records sharp increase in Covid-19 cases
People wearing masks on the Hamburg harbour front. Photo: Ulrich Perrey/DPA

“We have very clear indications for the fact that the third wave has already begun in Germany,” said RKI boss Lothar Wieler.

“I am very worried,” he said in conversation with journalists in Geneva, adding that it was important that people kept wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance from other people.

On Thursday, 14,356 new confirmed infections were recorded in a 24-hour period, an increase of 2,444 on the previous week and a level not seen since the beginning of February.

The 7-day incidence also rose from 65.4 to 69.1 infections for every 100,000 residents of Germany. A month ago the 7-day incidence was 64.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.

A further 321 deaths were recorded, while intensive care occupancy was at 2,736 beds, down from 5,762 at the high point in winter.

At the last lockdown summit the federal states and the government agreed upon a tentative re-opening of the economy, but they tied it to the 7-day incidence level.

If the incidence rates were to rise significantly to a level above 100, it could lead regional governments to “pull an emergency brake” and shut businesses back down.

Wieler said on Thursday that Germany’s vaccine campaign was a race against new, more transmissible, variants of the virus.

“We see effects already in those who are over 80. The incidence is on the decline, tremendously,” he said.

He expressed confidence that 80 percent of the population could be immunized by the autumn as long as constant supplies of the vaccines were maintained.

“If we achieve that then we can lift all of the measures.”

SEE ALSO: How freely will people be able to travel to and from Germany this summer?

Member comments

  1. Entirely the fault of the German government. There wouldnt be a third wave if they had a functional vaccine rollout.

    1. That would help, but if people stopped disregarding the rules & the advice, very few people would become infected. Everywhere you see the “It doesn’t really apply to me” attitude. And then the surprise when they get it and pass it on.

      1. That’s true – “It doesn’t really apply to me” altitude is a big problem. But looking at how German government handles the situation and vaccine rollout it seems like they have the very same altitude too.

        1. The while EU rollout was a mess. I agree with them being careful about the efficacy of certain vaccines, but they just ordered too few, & don’t have a good enough policy for getting peole vaccinated even if they had enough

      2. Very true.

        I’m shocked every time I see people – especially teenagers – grouped together on the streets with no respect for social distancing…and no masks!

        I have been following the rules – set by the government – from the very start.

        And still…no vaccine and certainly no access to Neustarthilfe (the online link is ridiculous and throws you out every time)….and, yet, I have to watch as people (who have a salary or parents paying for them) prolong this hardship and loss of money for so many with their selfish behaviour.

    2. It is stupid and naive to say that it’s a fault of government. People don’t follow the rules and they are paying the price.

      1. Not at all stupid. Have a look at the UK right now. They have a successful vaccine rollout and cases are dropping dramatically. No threat of a third wave there. We would not be having a third wave if a good proportion of the population were immune to the virus.

  2. No luck if you are self-employed and trying to access the Neustarthilfe application link.

    It has been unresponsive for days now.

    It feel like the government does not want to help on any level – no aid and no vaccine.

  3. I find it strange that numbers were dropping dramatically and all of a sudden they are rising again. I listened to a vaccine developer called Geert Vanden Bossche being interviewed and also read his letter to the WHO and other organisations its on

  4. Life here in the USA isn’t any better. They want to vaccinate everyone but the supply isn’t there and there is much waste and churn. They haven’t even finished all the nursing homes yet.

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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.