German virologist says UK’s falling Covid cases despite lifting restrictions gives ‘hope’

German virologist says UK's falling Covid cases despite lifting restrictions gives 'hope'
People partying in London on 'Freedom Day' on July 19th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Alberto Pezzali
A high-profile German virologist says the UK, which is seeing falling Covid cases despite lifting almost all measures last month, gives hope to Germany.

Covid cases in Germany have been rising since the first week of July, prompting fears that the fourth Covid wave will get out of control. On Monday 1,183 Covid infections were reported within 24 hours, and two deaths. The 7-day incidence rose to 23.1 cases per 100,000 people.

But Hamburg-based virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, says the development in the UK following the relaxation of Covid measures gives hope for the future.

IN NUMBERS: How the fourth Covid wave in Germany is developing

“The development in the UK shows that you can’t just say, ‘If we lift almost all the measures, everything will get out of hand.’ We are now seeing exactly the opposite,” he told DPA.

He said that the situation could not be replicated in other countries because there are lots of varying factors. “But that does give us hope that vaccinations can achieve something like this, that despite the lifting of almost all measures, we are also seeing falling case numbers and no overloading of the healthcare system,” said Schmidt-Chanasit.

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The UK government rolled back nearly all Covid restrictions on July 19th as part of so-called ‘Freedom Day’ and appealed to citizens to take personal responsibility – despite sharply rising case numbers.

At the time, 68 percent of adults had received at least one shot, and 53 percent were fully vaccinated. However, since mid-July, Covid cases have been generally falling across the UK, although we’re yet to see how long this will last.

Schmidt-Chanasit advised caution for Germany. “The task of politics is, after all, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be vaccinated and to continue to work on making vaccination services even more accessible,” he said. But, “In terms of restricting fundamental rights, this is certainly a turning point where you have to think carefully: can we continue to restrict fundamental rights?” 

As of Monday, around 54.8 percent of the population in Germany had been fully vaccinated, while 62.4 percent have had at least one shot.

It comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with state leaders on Tuesday to discuss Germany’s strategy in autumn. 

READ ALSO: Germany divided over whether to charge for Covid tests 

Masks needed ‘for years’

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Health Committee in the German Bundestag, Erwin Rüddel, expects that face masks will be used for years to come.

“The mask will continue to help shape our lives in the next five years,” the CDU politician told Deutschlandfunk radio. However, he said the aim was for “common sense” rather than regulations. 

At the same time, Rüddel advocated a return to social normality as soon as possible.

“We have now been in a state of emergency for almost two years and must learn to become normal again,” he said. 

READ ALSO: Germany considers tougher rules for the unvaccinated in autumn – but ‘drastic lockdown unlikely’


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