German health experts call for strict lockdown to quell rising Covid cases

German health experts call for strict lockdown to quell rising Covid cases
People enjoying the weather in Hamburg on March 30th. Photo: DPA
High-profile virologist Christian Drosten and other medical experts are calling for tougher coronavirus measures to control the third pandemic wave.

Drosten, the chief virologist at Berlin’s Charité hospital and advisor to the government, said tougher measures were needed in Germany because of the increase in cases.

“I don’t think it will work without a new lockdown to once again delay this momentum that has now set in without any doubt,” Drosten said on his Coronavirus Update podcast on Tuesday.

The situation is unfortunately “very serious and very complicated”, he added, saying that Germany has missed a lot of opportunities to “optimise the tools” it has.

“I have the feeling that we actually still have to use the same tools right now, that we used in the first wave,” he said. The only thing left is the ‘sledgehammer’: a tough lockdown.

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“It’s clear, contacts have to be reduced,” Drosten said, adding that this included the private sphere, education and workplaces. It is wrong, he said, to say that we don’t know where the virus is being transmitted.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for a tougher lockdown?

Drosten said the virus surge has started earlier than models predicted.

This week, he said, the more contagious variant B.1.1.7, which originated in the UK, will cover more than 90 percent of cases in Germany.

“That is of course anything but reassuring,” he said.

Danger of pandemic getting ‘completely out of control’

Doctors have also urged the government to take action.

“We are in the middle of the third wave. Vaccinations will not yet be able to break it in the coming weeks,” Ute Teichert, chairwoman of the Federal Association of German Medical Officers, told the Rheinische Post.

It is therefore “crucial” to reduce the number of infections, she said. However, this is only possible with a “consistent lockdown”.

Teichert warned against opening steps, which some states or cities in Germany are taking.

READ ALSO: How the German city of Tübingen is betting on Covid tests to reopen public life

“Relaxations lead to people having a lot of contacts,” she said. Combined with the high infection figures, it would then become “difficult to impossible” to track contacts, and the danger of the pandemic getting “completely out of control” increases.

In parallel to the lockdown, “concrete concepts” must be developed “on how a reasonable testing and vaccination strategy and apps for digital contact tracing, such as the Luca app, can be used to ease the situation – but only when the number of cases is down”, said Teichert.

This strategy also includes explaining exactly how people and institutions should proceed if a rapid test indicates an infection.

On Wednesday, Germany registered 17,051 coronavirus cases within 24 hours and 249 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

The number of cases per 100,000 people within a seven-day period stood at 132.3.

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


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