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COVID-19

How much longer will the pandemic continue in Germany?

After a year and a half of the Covid pandemic in Germany, many are wondering how much longer terms such as '3G', booster jab and lockdown will have to remain in their vocabulary. 

How much longer will the pandemic continue in Germany?
People stand in line to wait for their jabs at a pop-up vaccination clinic next to Cologne Cathedral. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

According to one health expert, not too much longer. 

“I assume that in the spring of 2022, Covid-19 will be over,” Andreas Gassen, head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), told the Rheinische Post on Thursday.

“By then, the vaccination rate will once again be somewhat higher, but above all, the number of recovered people with antibodies will also increase. Restrictions will then probably become completely unnecessary.”

Though vaccination rates have only been inching up slowly, almost two-thirds of the German population has now had at least one jab – and more than 60 percent are fully vaccinated. 

At present, politicians’ hopes of attaining ‘herd immunity’ in Germany are being held back in part by the fact that a significant age group (the under-12s) are currently unable to get inoculated.

By 2022, however, the secretary general of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Florian Hoffmann, expects vaccines to be available for young children as well.

READ ALSO: OPINION: How to explain German vaccine hesitancy?

“We firmly expect that from next year there will be vaccines for all age groups, even approved for newborns,” the pediatrician told the newspapers of the Funke Media Group on Thursday.

Currently, various studies by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are underway, some even with infants. 

A vaccine for children under the age of twelve should be available as early as the end of this year, Hoffmann said, adding that this group is expected to get a reduced dose of vaccine.

Infections to rise in autumn

Despite his hopes that the pandemic will have run its course within six to nine months, Gassen believes the infection figures are due to rise steeply again in the autumn.

The number of severe cases, however, should remain well below last winter, he said.

The seven-day incidence of Covid-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people has been slowly rising for weeks.

On Wednesday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded a figure of 1.81 – which equates to around two percent of the incidence of Covid cases on the same day (75.7 per 100,000 people). The previous high was around 15.5 near Christmas last year.

READ ALSO: Covid infection rate in Germany goes up – but vaccines having impact on hospitalisations

However, the 1.8 incidence value is likely to reflect the Covid situation around a week and a half ago, since on average around ten days pass between an infection and hospitalisation.

The government has not set a critical threshold for the incidence of Covid hospitalisations, in part because of large regional differences in healthcare provisions and capacity.

As of Thursday, the weekly incidence of infections per 100,000 people had edged up once more to 76.9. Health authorities around the country reported 13,715 new cases of Covid-19 within a day, and 33 Covid-related deaths.

Vocabulary

Infants – (die) Säuglinge

foreseeable, probable – voraussichtlich

hospitalisation – (die) Krankenhauseinweisung

I assume that – Ich gehe davon aus, dass…

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

With infection numbers shooting up once again in Germany, states are set to bring in a new set of Covid measures on October 1st.

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of 'difficult' winter

From Saturday, masks will no longer be required on commercial flights, though people will still be expected to wear an FFP2 mask on long-distance trains.

States will also be given the option to introduce mandatory masks in other public indoor spaces, including on local public transport and in schools. If they choose to bring in masks, they’ll also have the freedom to introduce exceptions to masks for people who are recently vaccinated or who have tested negative for Covid.

States will also be able to introduce compulsory testing in schools and nurseries.

READ ALSO: German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Speaking at a press conference alongside Robert Koch Institute (RKI) chair Lothar Wieler on Friday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended the decision to keep Covid rules in place when other countries in Europe have largely got rid of their pandemic measures. 

“It’s not for me to criticise what other countries are doing,” said Lauterbach. “We have a particularly difficult winter ahead of us due to the energy crisis, we don’t want to make it worse through the Covid crisis.”

The SPD politician also defended plans for mandatory masks for residents and staff in nursing and care homes. Having 40 or 50 vulnerable people together in an enclosed space is “extremely high-risk”, he said. 

Under the new rules set to be introduced on Saturday, residents of care homes will be expected to wear FPP2 masks in all common areas of the home, and will only be able to take them off in their bedrooms.

“For people in nursing homes, the FFP2 mask requirement means a considerable cut in their quality of life,” Regina Görner, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (Bagso), told DPA:

“The nursing home is their home, in which they can then no longer move freely without a mask.”

Visitors to nursing homes, meanwhile, will have to supply a negative Covid test, while staff will be tested three times a week. 

Under the autumn and winter rules, people across Germany will also be required to wear an FFP2 mask at their doctor’s surgery and in medical outpatient facilities such as hospitals.

“We’re better prepared than last autumn,” Lauterbach told reporters on Friday. “We have the infection numbers under control, we have this wave under control.” 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

Steep rise in cases

As the weather turns colder, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has reported a steep rise in respiratory infections, including Covid-19.

Last week, the number of Covid patients jumped dramatically from 500,000 to 1.2 million per week, with cases rising significantly in every age group.

Meanwhile, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people shot up from 409 on Thursday to 466 on Friday. The previous week, the weekly incidence stood at 294 per 100,000 people. 

The numbers are believed to be partially inflated by the ongoing Oktoberfest beer festival, which is being held for the first time since the pandemic started. In Munich, the location of the festival, the weekly incidence is almost 800. 

Speaking at the press conference in Berlin on Friday, RKI chair Wieler warned people not to get complacent about the threat of infection.

“A mild course of illness simply means not ending up in hospital,” he said. “We should be conscious of how much risk we want take on, and how much risk we can avoid.”

RKI chief Lothar Wieler

Robert Koch Institute chair Lothar Wieler (l) and Heath Minister Karl Lauterbach (r) hold a press conference in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Despite the looming energy crisis, the RKI boss advised the public to ensure that rooms were well ventilated, adding that spaces normally occupied by a large number of people should be aired out more regularly.

He also advised people with Covid symptoms to stay home until they felt better in order to avoid passing on any infections, and warned that people should be especially careful to avoid contact with vulnerable people.

“Just like before, these people need our solidarity,” he said. 

Self-isolation and quarantine rules vary from state to state, but people who test positive for Covid generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10.

In some cases, people can take an additional Covid test in order to end their isolation early.

The RKI has also recommended that people wear a mask in public enclosed spaces. 

READ ALSO: What will the Covid situation in Germany look like this autumn?

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