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COVID-19 STATS

Covid infections fall in Germany for first time since July

The 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people slipped to 74.8 in Germany on Tuesday, down from 75.8 the previous day.

Covid infections fall in Germany for first time since July
People walk through a pedestrian zone in Wuppertal, where the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people is currently over 200. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Caroline Seidel

This is first time that that the 7-day incidence has dropped since the country reached a plateau in early July. 

After sinking to its latest low of 4.9 infections per 100,000 people on July 6th, the trend began to reverse from July 7th, bringing an end to two months of decline in Covid infections.

Since then, the incidence has been rising exponentially, leading health experts to claim that the country is now in the grip of the Covid fourth wave.

Though the 7-day incidence has seen a small decline since Monday, it is still significantly higher than it was a week ago, when the weekly incidence of Covid infections stood at 58 per 100,000 people.

Some regions, meanwhile, are seeing 7-day incidences far above the national average.

Wuppertal, in North-Rhine Westphalia, has the highest weekly incidence of 251 infections per 100,000 residents.

On the national level, daily infections increased just slightly from 5,747 on August 24th to 5,750 on August 31st. 

However, Welt reporter Olaf Gersemann pointed out on Twitter that the number of active Covid cases has fallen for the second day in a row.

Compared to a week ago, the number of daily deaths has risen by around 50 percent, from 42 on August 24th to 60 on the 31st.

Since it can take up to two weeks for symptoms of Covid infections to appear, the latest figures are likely to paint a picture of the situation around ten days ago.

On August 23rd, Germany formalised and expanded its ‘3G’ health pass system nationwide, meaning that people now have to present proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test when entering many public indoor spaces.

READ ALSO: Germany’s 16 states bring in uniform ‘Covid health pass’ system

Since some states brought in their own health pass systems ahead of the August 23rd deadline, the downward movement in the infections could be reflecting the impact of these measures.

However, it is still too early to say whether the decline is a blip or part of a longer-term trend.

More than 1,000 in intensive care

With more than 60 percent of the German population now fully vaccinated, politicians and health experts are now looking beyond pure infection rates to decide on Covid measures. 

In addition to the 7-day incidence – which was previously the main driver for new restrictions – lawmakers have said they will consider factors such as vaccination coverage, hospitalisations and deaths before tightening or relaxing rules in autumn. 

On Monday, the number of patients in intensive care exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time since June 18th, according to figures released by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) and the Robert Koch Institute.

Of the 1,008 people currently in intensive care, the vast majority (around 75 percent) are between the ages of 30 and 69, with around 25 percent of patients in the 50-59 age bracket.

The majority of patients suffering severe courses of Covid are unvaccinated, according to the DIVI report. 

READ ALSO: German Health Minister says focus must be on Covid hospital admissions when deciding measures

According to Gersemann, Covid trends from this time last year suggest that intensive care patient numbers will continue to rise over the next fortnight. 

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COVID-19

Germany’s weekly Covid infection rate rises above 500

Germany recorded a weekly Covid incidence of more than 500 per 100,000 people on Monday as health experts warn that the fifth wave of the pandemic has only just begun.

Bar in Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, which has the highest incidence in the country.
People sit outside bars in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, where incidences are currently the highest in the country. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

On Monday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 528, up from 515 the day before and 376 a week ago. 

Infections have been rising rapidly as the highly transmissible Omicron variant tightens its hold in Germany. Monday marked the fourth day in a row in which the country posted record incidences.

Since the first incidence of the variant was discovered in the country around seven weeks ago, Omicron has swiftly taken over as the dominant variant in Germany.

It currently accounts for around 73 percent of Covid infections and is expected to almost entirely replace the Delta variant this week. 

Though Omicron generally causes a less severe illness than Delta, experts are concerned that deaths and hospitalisations could remain high due to the unprecedented number of cases Germany could see.

Unlike Delta, Omicron has a large number of mutations that allow it to evade previously built up immunity through vaccinations and illness. 

The World Health Organisation has warned that half of all Europeans could be infected with the virus by spring. 

“After the temporary decline in case numbers, severe disease courses and deaths towards the end of 2021 in the fourth wave, the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has begun in Germany with the dominant circulation of the omicron variant,” the Robert Koch Institute wrote in its weekly report on Thursday.  

Since the first Omicron case was discovered in Germany, there have been 191,422 suspected or proven cases of the variant.

As Welt data journalist Olaf Gersemann pointed out in Twitter, the number of Omicron cases has increased sixfold within a fortnight. 

Increase in hospitalisations

Before this weekend, Germany had hit its previous peak of infections back in November, when the country posted a 7-day incidence of 485 per 100,000 people at during the peak of the fourth wave.

Since then, Covid measures such contact restrictions and blanket 2G (entry only for the vaccinated and recovered) or 2G-plus (vaccinated or recovered with a negative test) have been relatively effective at turning the tide. 

READ ALSO:

For the past few weeks however, infections have been on the up once again as the Omicron fifth wave begins.

The incidence of hospitalisations in the country appears to also be on the rise again after a few weeks of decline. On Friday, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisations stood at 3.24 per 100,000 people, up from 3.13 the day before.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned that Omicron could place additional pressure on the general hospital wards as fewer people end up in intensive care. 

“Depending on how things develop, we may face shortages not only in the intensive care units, but also in the normal wards. There is a threat of entire departments being closed,” he said.

“Rapid spread of the virus would mean hundreds of thousands will become seriously ill and we will have to mourn many thousands of deaths again.” 

Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at a weekly press conference on Friday, January 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld
 

Northern states post record incidences

Since the start of the Omicron wave, northern Germany has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

As of Monday, the city-state of Bremen had the highest incidence in the country, with 1389 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in a week.

This was followed by Berlin, which currently has a 7-day incidence of 948, and Hamburg, which recorded a 7-day incidence of 806. The district with the highest incidence in Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which posted a weekly incidence of 1597 on Monday. 

In contrast to the fourth wave, the lowest Covid incidences were recorded in the eastern states of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. 

On Monday, Thuringia had a weekly incidence of 198 per 100,000 people, while Saxony’s incidence was 249 and Saxony-Anhalt’s was 280.

Somewhat inexplicably, the incidence has been declining in Thuringia in recent weeks, though there is speculation that this could be to do with the fact that Omicron has not yet spread in the state.

Nine of the sixteen German states have incidences of more than 500 per 100,000 people. 

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