LATEST: Germany’s coronavirus incidence rate more than doubles in four weeks

Coronavirus cases are rising quickly, new figures show - and young people are increasingly affected. Here's an update on the current picture in Germany.

LATEST: Germany's coronavirus incidence rate more than doubles in four weeks
A mask sign in painted in Dortmund's nearly-empty city centre on Monday. Photo: DPA

On Tuesday the number of cases per 100,000 residents in Germany within a seven-day period (the 7-day incidence) had risen to 135.2, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The day before, that number was 134.4.

Four weeks ago on March 2nd, the 7-day incidence was just 65.4.

The number of deaths reported every day is also picking up again.

After the number of new infections dropped significantly in the partial lockdown until around mid-February, the number of infections has recently risen sharply again.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for a tougher lockdown?

Experts say this is due to the spread of more infectious variants, particularly the B.1.17 variant that originated in the UK. 

“The virus variant B.1.1.7 is currently found in more than 70 percent of the positive samples examined in Germany,” said the RKI.

With the exception of the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg who did not submit their figures, the German health authorities reported 9,549 new coronavirus infections to the RKI within one day.

Meanwhile, 180 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours. This is according to figures released by the RKI on Tuesday.

Exactly a week ago, the RKI had recorded 7,485 new infections and 250 new deaths within a day.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows where in Germany has had the highest infection rates over the past 7 days.

Where are Covid outbreaks happening?

The RKI says the number of cases has “accelerated since about March 10th”.

Experts said the case numbers are rising in all age groups “but particularly strongly in children and adolescents, from whom transmissions and outbreaks also increasingly originate”.

Cases among the over 80s had been decreasing, but the RKI said this trend is no longer continuing.

READ ALSO: School openings will lead to more children getting longterm Covid, German doctor warns

In the majority of cases, the site of infection is unknown. However, Covid-19 related outbreaks are being observed in private settings in particular, “but increasingly also in daycare centres, schools and professional environments”.

The number of outbreaks in old people’s homes and nursing homes has decreased, said the RKI.

R number falls slightly

The RKI reports a total of 2,791,822 infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic in Germany.

The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections are not detected. The total number of people who have died from or with Covid stands at 76,093.

The nationwide seven-day reproductive number was 1.10 (previous day: 1.17), according to the RKI situation report on Monday evening.

This graph (credit: DPA) shows the 7-day coronavirus incidence from November 1st up until Friday March 26th.

This means that 100 Covid-infected people infect  on average 110 others. This value represents the number of infections 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the number of infections is decreasing; if it is continuously above 1, the number of cases is going up.

What about hospitals and vaccines?

As of March 29th, there were 3,573 Covid-19 cases in intensive care units (up from 116 from the previous day). A total of 1.961 patients were receiving ventilation.

Since December 26th 2020, a total of 9,001,925 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with one dose (10.8 percent of the population) and 3,877,914 with both doses (4.7 percent).

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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.