Germany’s Covid case rate falls below key threshold of 50 for first time since October

For the first time since October 2020, the 7-day incidence nationwide is below 50 Covid-19 infections per 100,000 people.

Germany's Covid case rate falls below key threshold of 50 for first time since October
People walking in the Prenzlauer Berg area of Berlin on May 24th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people within a period of seven days fell to 46.8 on Wednesday May 26th, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control agency shows. 

On Tuesday the 7-day incidence nationwide in Germany was 58.4 and a week ago it was 72.8. The incidence rate has been steadily dropping across the country since around the end of April.

In mid-February, the 7-day incidence – which German politicians have been using as the main factor to decide on easing Covid restrictions – had come down to just over 50 at the end of the second wave.

But then came the third wave, pushing numbers significantly up again through the rest of February, March and part of April. 

The last time the incidence rate was below the 50 threshold for the whole of Germany was back in autumn: An incidence of 48.6 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents was registered on October 20th 2020, reported German daily Welt on Wednesday.

IN PICTURES: How Germany is reopening after six months of Covid shutdown

Several districts and cities – including Berlin – are also logging incidence rates below 50 infections per 100,000 people.

When there is a stable Covid rate below 50, more reopening of public life and easing of rules can happen.

Areas across Germany have started reopening facilities like outdoor terraces in bars, cafes and restaurants, outdoor pools, museums and galleries, with restrictions like regular rapid testing.

What is the coronavirus situation in general?

On Wednesday, Germany reported 2,626 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours. For comparison: a week ago, 11,040 infections were logged.

However, we should be careful when looking at the current data because due to the holiday weekend – and some previous public holidays in the last weeks – the numbers could be slightly skewed as fewer people get tested and there can be delays in reporting results of the tests carried out.

According to the RKI, 270 deaths were recorded in Germany within 24 hours. A week ago, there were 284 deaths within a day.

The Our World in Data chart below gives an idea of confirmed Covid-19 cases (rolling 7-day average) in Germany, France and the UK.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI has logged a total of 3,656,177 proven infections with Sars-CoV-2. The actual total number, however, is probably much higher, as many infections are not detected.

The number of people who are estimated to have recovered from Covid in Germany is around 3,438,800. The number of people who have died from or with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic in Germany stands at 87,726.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re on the right track’: What’s the current Covid situation around Germany?

What about the R number?

The nationwide seven-day reproductive number (R number) was 0.78 (previous day: 0.84), according to the RKI situation report from Tuesday evening. This means that 100 infected people on average go on to infect 78 other people.

The R-value represents the infection incidence eight to 16 days ago. If the R-value 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 increasing.

What’s the status with the inoculation campaign?

In Germany more than 40 percent of the population has received at least one shot against Covid-19, while more than 14 percent of people have been fully vaccinated.

By next Sunday, 170 million people throughout Europe will have received at least one jab. That would be 46 percent of the adult population in the EU, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, according to EU sources.

By May 30th, about 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine will have been delivered in the EU and 245 million doses of it administered.

According to the report, deliveries in the second quarter from April to June exceeded original expectations: 413 million vaccine doses from the manufacturers BioNtech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are expected to arrive in the EU.

According to the current forecast, there will be 529 million doses delivered in the third quarter from July to the end of September, and another 452 million in the fourth quarter.


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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.