What’s the current coronavirus situation in Germany post-Easter?

On Wednesday morning the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 9,677 new infections within the past 24 hours - much lower than the previous week.

What's the current coronavirus situation in Germany post-Easter?
A man trains in a fitness studio in Orscholz, Saarland, which just opened on Tuesday to those who can present a negative Covid-19 test. Photo: DPA

There were also 298 deaths from or with the coronavirus over the past day, according to the RKI.

Exactly one week ago on Wednesday March 31st, the RKI had recorded 17,051 new infections and 249 new deaths within one day.

Yet the decrease is likely attributed to fewer tests being carried out over the Easter holidays, which stretched from Friday April 2nd to Monday April 5th. Testing is not expected to return to comparable levels until after the coming weekend in most states, according to the RKI.

As of Wednesday, a total of 4.6 million people (or 5.6 percent of the population) had been completely vaccinated, according to the German government’s ‘Vaccination dashboard’.

On Tuesday alone 322,039 vaccine doses were administered, as family doctor practices around the country gave out jabs for the first time.

On Wednesday afternoon German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) was set to discuss how to proceed with second AstraZeneca jabs for those who had already received their first vaccines, and were advised against the substance.

The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) recommended last week that people under 60 years who have already received a first Covid-19 vaccination through AstraZeneca should switch to another vaccine for their second dose.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why has Germany restricted the use of AstraZeneca in under 60s?

Seven-day incidence also decreases

According to the RKI, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days was 110.1 nationwide on Wednesday morning. The previous day, the 7-day incidence stood at 123.

Many states around Germany have been enforcing a ‘Notbremse’ (emergency brake) to tighten restrictions as the 7-day incidence climbs above 100. 

However, other states such as Saarland, have opened up more businesses this week with increased testing.

READ ALSO: ‘Taste of freedom’: German state begins reopening public life despite rising Covid cases

In February, the countrywide 7-day incidence had temporarily dropped below 60 before rising sharply again. A week ago, the 7-day incidence was 132.2.

The following graph from DPA shows where in Germany had the highest infection rates as of Wednesday. Figures remained highest in the eastern state of Thuringia.

The nationwide 7-day R value was 0.81 on Tuesday evening ( down from the previous day of 0.9), according to the RKI. This means that 100 infected people infect on average 81 more people. 

A drop in the R value could also be related to the Easter holidays, the RKI wrote in its situation report. “The values can only be assessed in a few days.”

The total number of recorded Covid-19 cases in Germany since the start of the pandemic increased to 2,910,445, according to the RKI, with a total of 77,401 people who have died from or with the virus.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now