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Germany’s Covid warning app to display ‘vaccine passport’ and better check-in functions

Germany’s Corona-Warn-App is set to expand with new features, including a built-in certificate for those who have been vaccinated and a check-in function for private events.

Germany's Covid warning app to display 'vaccine passport' and better check-in functions
The Corona-Warn-App displaying a low risk after an encounter. Photo: DPA

Some of the new features of the ‘Version 2.0’ of the Corona-Warn-App will be available as of Wednesday.

They include a ‘private event’ function, in which users can anonymously check-in through the QR code that the host has set up. 

The location of the event, its duration and the event type are recorded, but not the names and phone numbers of the visitors.

This also differs from coronavirus tracing apps such as Luca or darfichrein.de, which are designed to digitally register people in restaurants, stores or at events, as is required in all 16 German states. In the process, visitors must provide their contact information. 

In future versions – before the summer vacations begin – it will also be possible to display a ‘digital vaccination certificate’, in which users could prove if they’ve been fully vaccinated. 

This could act as a type of “Impfpass” (vaccination passport), allowing holders to more freely travel and engage in public life again. 

READ ALSO: ‘The only way forward’: Should Germany introduce a Covid-19 immunity passport?

It will also be possible to display the results of rapid tests through the app. Around most of Germany, a negative result is currently required for shopping, getting a haircut, or in some states such as Berlin to enter the workplace. 

The Corona-Warn-App was originally launched in June 2020 to let users know if they’ve come in contact with an infected person in their vicinity.

READ ALSO: 11 things to know about Germany’s newly-launched coronavirus tracing app

Picking up in popularity

If the app detects a possible dangerous encounter, it notifies other nearby users but not health authorities themselves. 

Although Germany’s Corona-Warn-App is the most successful digital Covid-19 contact tracking application in Europe, with 27 million downloads to date, its effectiveness has repeatedly come into question. 

Last October, for example, Bavaria’s state premier Markus Söder (CSU) declared the app to be virtually ineffective.

“Unfortunately, the app has been a toothless tiger so far,” Söder said in an interview at the time. “It has hardly any warning effect.”

However, current federal figures show that the app has likely come a long way since its inception. 

READ ALSO: ‘Only problem is that it’s optional’: The verdict on Germany’s coronavirus tracing app

According to these, 79,000 users have warned their contacts about a positive test result in the past four weeks alone. 

On average, a positive report triggers warnings to six other people. Four out of five people who receive a red alert in the app then go on to get tested, with seven percent testing positive for a Covid-19 infection.

Taking these numbers into account, the app has probably warned a total of about 2.5 million people about high-risk encounters with others and ultimately detected 140,000 Covid 19 infections.

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COVID-19

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.

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