Germany’s infection rate drops further as some areas reach ‘zero-Covid’

The downward trend on the number of Covid infections in Germany is continuing. And two districts have even reached the so-called 'zero-Covid' status.

Germany's infection rate drops further as some areas reach 'zero-Covid'
People walking in Hamburg's Schanzenviertel on June 4th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Bockwoldt

The number of cases per 100,000 people within seven days dropped to 22.9 on Tuesday June 8th, Robert Koch Institute (RKI) figures showed. The day before the incidence was 24.3 and a week ago it stood at 35.2.

In total, health authorities in Germany reported 1,204 new Covid-19 infections within a day. That’s 33 percent down on the previous week, when 1,785 infections were logged. 

The 7-day average of new cases is at the lowest number since October 8th, 2020 – exactly eight months ago. 

However, the number of deaths remains in the low three-digit range. A total of 140 people died in Germany from or with Covid within 24 hours. A week ago there were 153 deaths recorded. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid danger level downgraded for first time in six months

What about the situation locally?

The 7-day incidence in all federal states has now fallen to under 30. The incidences have varied greatly between regions for months but they have all been falling in the last few weeks.

Politicians have been using the incidence number to decide when more of public life can reopen and restrictions can be eased. Many places have been reopening tourism, indoor dining and gyms in recent days, as well as relaxing contact restrictions. 

The Our World in Data chart gives an idea of daily new confirmed cases per million people in Germany and a few other large countries showing developing trends.

The incidence is currently highest in Germany’s smallest state – Saarland – with 28.5 infections per 100,000 people, closely followed by Baden Württemberg with 28.

Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia have a 7-day incidence of 26, while Thuringia has an incidence rate of 27.

State by state: How to apply for a Covid vaccine in Germany

Berlin and Rhineland-Palatinate both have an incidence rate of 24.2. It’s even lower in Bavaria with 23.6 infections per 100,000 people. In Hamburg the 7-day incidence is just 16.7.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the 7-day incidence is extremely low – with 8.7 infections per 100,000 residents in seven days. It is also very low in Schleswig-Holstein (11) and Brandenburg (12.9). 

The encouraging trend can be shown on the RKI’s map of Germany (shown in the below tweet) which was previously coloured dark red in many places, but now has become noticeably lighter, meaning that the situation is much better. Plus two districts have reached the much-coveted ‘zero-Covid’ status.

Goslar and Friesland in Lower Saxony have not logged any new coronavirus cases for at least seven days and the incidence is currently 0. However, they do still have active cases: in Friesland (as of yesterday) there were seven active cases, and Goslar has 48.

READ ALSO: Germany’s emergency brake ‘set to expire’ amid low Covid figures

Welt data journalist Olaf Gersemann tweeted to say the grey circles (showing the locations of Friesland in the north west and Goslar in the centre) show where no new cases have been reported within the last seven days.

But there are still some red spots. The district with the highest incidence is Kronach in Upper Franconia, Bavaria, where the 7-day incidence is 83.9 and, therefore, well above the national average. Zweibrücken in Rhineland-Palatinate also has an incidence of 73.1.

Interestingly, the district of Berlin-Neukölln, which has had consistently high Covid cases throughout the crisis, has a 7-day incidence of 52 cases per 100,000 people. All German cities and districts north of it have an incidence of below 50. 

Currently 19 of the 412 districts in Germany have an incidence above 50.

READ ALSO: 7 things the Covid crisis has taught us about Germany

Overall picture looking good

The RKI has logged around 3.7 million detected infections with Sars-CoV-2 since the beginning of the pandemic. The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, however, since many infections are not recognised.

Around 3.5 million people are estimated to have recovered from Covid-19. The number of people who have died with or from Covid stands at around 89,384.

According to the RKI report on Monday, the nationwide 7-day reproductive number (R) was 0.76 (previous day: 0.81). This means that 100 infected people theoretically go on to infect 76 other people.

The R number represents the occurrence of infection eight to 16 days ago. If it is below one for a long time, the infection process subsides; if it is consistently higher, the number of cases increases.

What about vaccinations and the situation in hospitals?

The latest data shows that 46 percent of the German population has received at least one vaccine dose, and 21.9 percent are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. 

On Monday June 7th, Germany dropped the strict priority list it had put in place to make sure vulnerable people and those most exposed to Covid could get a vaccine appointment first. Now – in most states – vaccines are open to everyone over the age of 12. 

READ ALSO: Germany opens up vaccines to everyone over the age of 12

Meanwhile, the number of Covid patients in ICU in Germany has fallen to 1,796 – the lowest number since October 29th 2020. Of those, 1,147 are receiving ventilation treatment. The number of free intensive care beds in Germany has increased by 6 percent to 3,989. 

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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