Germany reaches highest number of new Covid-19 infections since January
The numbers have not been so high since January: the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 22,657 new infections over the last 24 hours on Thursday morning.
The number of infections per 100,000 people over seven days also rose to 113.3.
The development at the beginning of the year initially gave cause for hope. The infection figures declined continuously - until mid-February. Since then, the curve has been steadily rising again. In the meantime, the mark of 20,000 reported new infections per day has been reached again.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) registered 22,657 new cases within 24 hours and 228 more deaths from or with the coronavirus. At the same time a week ago, the RKI had recorded 17,504 new infections and 227 coronavirus deaths within one day.
The nationwide R-value is currently set at 1, which means that 100 infected persons mathematically infect 100 more people. This value represents the incidence of infection from 8 to 16 days ago.
Is a new lockdown needed to halt rising infections?
According to RKI head Lothar Wieler, the current nationwide lockdown in place until April 18th is the only sensible way to halt the rise in infections. "We cannot stop this rise unless we have a lockdown in place for the country,” Wieler said at an online event hosted by the German Embassy in Washington.
Other tools to contain the third wave are not currently available, he said.
On the other hand, German Medical Association President Klaus Reinhardt called for more attention to be paid to options other than a shutdown to stem the spread of the virus.
"The months-long yo-yo lockdown is wearing people down. It must not be our only response to the third coronavirus wave," Reinhardt told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
He added that there are promising approaches that make it possible to return to social normality. As examples, Reinhardt cited cities such as Tübingen or Rostock, which have been using rapid tests to facilitate opening public life again, including stores, restaurants and cafes.
On Monday, Germany extended its months-long lockdown further to April 18th. However on Wednesday, Merkel overturned a strict Easter lockdown which was set to take place from April 1st to 5th, calling the move to enforce it “my fault alone” after it was met with harsh criticism from the business, religious and political community.
Yet the greater the increase, the more rules there need to be, said Chancellor Angela Merkel during a speech in the Bundestag on Thursday morning. “In certain situations, you can’t just do nothing.”
She encouraged states to rely on a ‘Notbremse’ (emergency brakes) mechanism, in which they would revert to stricter measures once cases exceeded a 7-day incidence of 100.