Germany’s Covid intensive-care numbers stay above 4,000

For the second day running, there were more than 4,000 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care units in Germany, numbers not previously seen since early February.

Germany's Covid intensive-care numbers stay above 4,000
Medical staff take care of a Covid-19 patient in Robert Bosch hospital in Stuttgart.(Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

According to the latest figures from Germany’s intensive care register on Monday, 4,143 people with coronavirus are currently being treated in intensive care.

This is an increase of 92 on Sunday’s figures.

Around 56 percent of the Covid-19 patients in intensive care were on ventilators.

Out of Germany’s total of 23,600 usable intensive care beds, 3,771 were free, including 1,457 Covid-specific intensive care beds.

The pictures below show how the situation varies in different parts of the country:

The left-hand map shows the proportion of total adult intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients, while the one on the right shows the percentage of unoccupied intensive care beds as of April 5th.

The figures are based on the most recent data from the last seven days.

The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units peaked at over 5,500 cases at the start of January in the second wave, dropping to below 3,000 patients at the start of March.

The below chart from Germany’s DIVI intensive care availability register shows the number of patients with Covid-19 that have been treated in intensive care from the start of pandemic.

As depicted in the above chart, Germany’s third wave has seen infections increasing again since around mid-March, ramping up pressure on hospitals.

Calls have been growing for Germany to take tougher action to stem the tide of new infections and take the pressure off hospitals.

READ ALSO: Is Germany heading for a tougher Covid lockdown?

On Easter Monday, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute’s daily situation report showed 8,497 new Covid-19 infections and 50 new deaths in the last 24 hours.

The actual numbers may be even higher as the RKI said that generally, fewer tests are carried out and reported over public holidays, such as Easter.

The number of new infections per 100,000 residents stood at 128 on Monday, just above Sunday’s 127, and a sharp increase from three weeks ago, when the figure stood at 83.

However, as further case reports come in, RKI revises the figure up or down accordingly.

In the last few weeks, values reported at the start of the week have typically been revised slightly higher, Germany’s public health body said.

As shown in the below chart from the Robert Koch Institute, the seven-day R value (in pale orange), or reproduction number, is around 1. 

This means that, on average, every 100 infected people will pass the virus on to a further 100 people.

When the figure is below 1 for a longer period of time, it means the epidemic is shrinking. But when the number is above 1, an outbreak can grow exponentially.

The blue columns show the number of new cases, highlighting the rising trend established in mid-March.

Member comments

  1. It would be wonderful if there were more context to your articles. For example, what is the ICU patient load typically like during this time of year? Trends over the past 5 years? –including 2019 when Germany experienced an exorbitant number of flu cases. These numbers don’t mean anything without perspective.

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German hospitals see Covid staff shortages and rising patient numbers

A wave of Covid infections in Germany is causing staff shortages as many people call in sick and isolate - including in hospitals. The number of Covid patients in intensive care is also increasing slightly.

German hospitals see Covid staff shortages and rising patient numbers

Covid-19 infections are sweeping through the country this summer. On Tuesday, Germany reported 147,489 Covid cases within the latest 24 hour period, and 102 deaths.

The number of seriously ill Covid patients in intensive care units in Germany rose to 1,000 on Sunday, and 1,062 on Monday, according to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI). The number of ICU patients hasn’t been at this level since mid-May.

At the last highest point – in December 2021 – just under 4,900 seriously ill patients were being treated with Covid-19 in ICUs, after which the figures dropped with phases where they plateaued. 

And now the increasing staff shortages – due to people getting Covid and having to isolate – is causing growing concern among hospitals and doctors, especially as experts believe it will get worse after summer. 

“We are receiving reports from all federal states that individual wards and departments are having to be closed, due to a lack of staff,” the head of the board of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

At times, emergency admissions are also being cancelled at rescue coordination centres. “This situation worries us considerably with a view to the upcoming autumn,” said Gaß.

READ ALSO: German politicians clash over Covid rules for autumn

Infection figures have risen sharply in recent weeks. The 7-day incidence on Tuesday stood at 687.7 infections per 100,000 people, but experts believe many cases are going unreported. 

“Although the occupancy rate in intensive care is only rising moderately, it is relatively high for a summer, and the beds available are becoming fewer and fewer due to the shortage of staff,” the scientific director of the ICU registry, Christian Karagiannidis, told the Düsseldorf-based Rheinische Post on Tuesday.

He said clinics and hospitals should work to allocate capacity across the country.

“This includes regional networks for the best possible distribution of patients by level of care,” he said. “Cooperation, but also relieving the burden on staff, will be the order of the day this autumn and winter,” said Karagiannidis, who also sits on the government’s council of experts team.

Germany’s Covid-19 rules still require that people who get Covid isolate for at least five days or a maximum of 10 days. The rules differ from state to state on how people can end the quarantine period. But health and care workers need to have a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken five days into isolation at the earliest before they can return to work, plus a prior 48-hour symptom-free period.

READ ALSO: The Covid rules in place across German states

The German Foundation for Patient Protection rejected a demand to shorten the quarantine period. Wolfgang Kubicki, vice-chairman of the FDP, had proposed people should be able to take a test after only three days to leave isolation.

This “fuels the uncontrolled spread of corona”, said Eugen Brysch, Chairman of the foundation. “That is why the isolation period for corona-positive patients must be extended to 10 days,” Brysch recommend, adding: “This may only be shortened if a PCR test is negative.”