Masks and Covid tests should continue in Germany's schools until 2022, say health officials

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Masks and Covid tests should continue in Germany's schools until 2022, say health officials
An FFP2 mask next to a child in a German classroom. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Schoolchildren in Germany should be wearing mandatory masks and testing regularly for Covid until spring next year, the boss of the Robert Koch Institute has said.


Lothar Wieler, RKI chief, called for protective measures in schools to continue due to the expected spread of the Delta variant.

"We recommend that testing and wearing mouth-nose protection continue in schools. From today's perspective, I would say that should be the case until next spring," Wieler told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

"On the one hand, we want to keep the incidence of infection low, after all, because children can also become seriously ill. And on the other hand, of course, we are aiming for schools to remain open."

Wieler said the RKI expects the incidence of infection in schools to rise: "There will be increased cases in children - already we are seeing major outbreaks of the Delta variant in schools."

READ ALSO: Where (and how) are Germany's Delta variant Covid cases spreading?


When will Germany see the Delta spike?

The spread of the Delta variant depends on everyone's behaviour, said the RKI chief. 

"Particularly when indoors we should continue to wear mouth-nose protection, reduce contacts and take advantage of testing opportunities," he said.

Wieler said it's difficult to predict when Germany will see the number of Covid cases rise again. In recent week, Covid infections have fallen dramatically.

On Friday Germany logged 774 Covid cases within 24 hours, and the 7-day incidence was 6.2 infections per 100,000 residents. 

"It also depends on the progress of vaccination drive as to when numbers will rise again," said Wieler. "Therefore, the timing is difficult to predict. What is certain, however, is that there will be an increase in numbers again in the autumn and winter."

Wieler said nobody could rule out stricter lockdown measures coming into force again.

"But what I know for sure is that if we remain cautious now, if we continue to wear masks now in closed rooms, if we continue to keep our distance and vaccination rates continue to go up, then we can avoid this," he said.

"I am convinced of that. I can only express my hope that together we can do that."

READ ALSO: Share of Delta variant Covid cases in Germany almost doubles in a week

So far there is no evidence to suggest the approved vaccines are not effective against the Delta variant, said Wieler.

"But of course we are concerned because new variants will emerge all the time," he added. "They need to be detected quickly and then contact tracing needs to be done intensively.

"The lower the incidences are, the better health departments can do that."


To recommend - empfehlen

Occurrence or incidence of infection - (das) Infektionsgeschehen

To fall ill - erkranken

To predict - vorhersagen

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