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Fourth wave: What we know about Germany’s spike in Covid cases

Fourth wave: What we know about Germany's spike in Covid cases
School pupils in Hamburg going for their Covid vaccine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz
The fourth Covid wave is gaining momentum in Germany, the RKI says. Here's a breakdown of what's happening.

On Friday Germany reported 9,280 Covid infections within 24 hours and 13 deaths. The 7-day incidence rose to 48.8 Covid infections per 100,000 people – a massive spike from the low of around 5 cases per 100,000 people in early July. 

According to the the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) the fourth wave of the Covid pandemic has clearly begun – and is gaining pace.

The proportion of positive samples among PCR tests in laboratories has risen from four to six percent within a week to mid-August, said the institute in its latest weekly report. That’s based on about half a million tests from nearly 200 laboratories.

Younger people in particular are affected by Covid now, the RKI said. “This now clearly shows the beginning of the fourth wave, which is gaining momentum, particularly through infections within the young adult population,” the latest report says. 

READ ALSO: German Health Minister rules out a lockdown for the vaccinated

Around a quarter of reported cases are believed to have occurred through travel. The most frequent regions mentioned are Turkey, Spain and Balkan countries.

The RKI continues to assess the risk to the health of German residents who have not yet been vaccinated or have only been partially vaccinated as “high” overall. For those who have been fully jabbed, scientists classify the health risk as “moderate”.

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Where are the most infections?

Since July, the incidence rate has been rising again – especially among those aged 10 to 49, according to the analysis.

With 94 cases per 100,000 in seven days, it is particularly high among 20 to 24-year-olds.

Experts said the number of hospitalisations of Covid patients is “also on the rise again”, with most patients in the 35 to 59-year-old age group.

The mean age of Covid hospital patients requiring medical treatment has fallen significantly in the past calendar week, from 62 to 58. 

The latest report from the intensive care register (DIVI) shows 621 Covid patients are in hospitals across Germany, with 293 of them (47 percent) receiving intensive care treatment. 

On August 5th, DIVI reported 387 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Germany, with 206 of those (53 percent) receiving ventilation treatment.

READ ALSO: Most Covid hospital patients in Germany are unvaccinated, says doctor

In day-care centres and schools outbreaks were still at a low level up to mid-August. In some federal states, however, it’s still the summer break

A similar increase in infections in the younger population was also seen in the summer of 2020, the report said. However, the spike was witnessed five weeks later, in late September or early October. So far this summer, the more transmissible Delta variant has made up the overwhelming majority of cases, overtaking the previous Alpha variant.

The share of Delta in new Covid cases now stands at 99 percent.

The increase in infections is happening across the board. 

German data journalist Olaf Gersemann said that 128 of Germany’s 412 districts and cities now have an incidence over 50 cases per 100,000 people in seven days. That number was only eight two weeks ago. 

What about vaccinations?

In the summer of 2020, there was no vaccination protection so we have a huge advantage against the virus as we enter into autumn soon.

On Monday, the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO) also gave the green light for Covid vaccinations in children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. Legally, this had already been possible since the end of May in Germany.

But now that there is a general recommendation in place, demand among younger people is growing significantly, according to doctors.

Overall, about 64 percent of people in Germany have received at least one jab against Covid-19. More than 58 percent have been fully inoculated against the virus.

Experts want to see full vaccination coverage reach 85 percent of the population or more to really clamp down on the pandemic and the Delta variant.

The RKI reiterated that sticking to Covid rules, such as wearing masks in shops and on public transport and keeping distance, remains an important weapon in the fight against Covid.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Germany’s new ‘3G’ Covid health pass rules


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