Germany sees steep rise in Covid cases

The number of reported Covid cases in Germany shot up to more than 17,000 in 24 hours, while the 7-day incidence went up by five percentage points.

Germany sees steep rise in Covid cases
People queue at Berlin's Berghain nightclub after it reopened earlier in October. The club has reported a Covid outbreak. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Wednesday said 17,015 new Covid infections were registered in Germany within a day. A week ago, there were 11,903 new infections, the previous day 6,771 infections were logged.

The nationwide 7-day incidence of new Covid infections went up for the seventh day in a row. On Wednesday it stood at 80.4 Covid infections per 100,000 people within a seven-day period. On the previous day the incidence was 75.1, a week ago 65.4. 

Meanwhile, 92 deaths were recorded in Germany within 24 hours, a similar number to a week ago. 

The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to ICU wards per 100,000 residents within seven days – the most important parameter for a possible tightening of Covid-19 restrictions – was 2.13 on Tuesday, up from Monday when the incidence was 1.92.

READ ALSO: Is Germany seeing a high number of Covid cases and hospitalisations?

German politicians haven’t given a hospitalisation incidence threshold for when the situation should be seen as critical, partly because of large regional differences. The previous maximum hospitalisation incidence in Germany was around 15.5 per 100,000 people during the Christmas period last year. 

The significant increase in the number of infections may be due to the return of travellers during the October holidays. RKI boss Lothar Wieler warned on Monday that holiday traffic could lead to “more infections from abroad”.

The below chart from Our World in Data shows the rising trend of Covid cases in Germany per million people compared to other countries. Noticeably, the UK is seeing extreme Covid cases numbers.

READ ALSO: Germany ‘doesn’t need a Covid exit strategy like the UK’, says Spahn

Mixed response on plans to lift Covid emergency

As The Local reported, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn believes Germany can end its pandemic emergency situation on November 25th, although he said some measures should continue.

The recognition of an “epidemic situation of national relevance” is a special clause in the German constitution which overrides parliamentary checks on the executive branch. It allows the government and states to put in restrictions such as mandatory face masks or Covid entry restrictions to indoor spaces. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s pandemic emergency powers ‘could end in November’

There’s a mixed response in the view of the rising Covid numbers. 

The German Association of Towns and Municipalities supports the move. “I think it is wrong to continue the state of emergency after almost two years of the pandemic,” Association Director Gerd Landsberg told the Rheinische Post.

But the state governments in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia called for uniform nationwide solutions to continue in the fight against Covid.

“Nobody wants to see a patchwork (of regulations) in dealing with the pandemic in Germany after the epidemic situation of national importance has ended,” said Rhineland-Palatinate health minister Clemens Hoch (SPD).

He also stressed that “it will not be realistic for us to lift all measures from November 25th – Jens Spahn knows that too.” He said he would like to see an “orderly, uniform transitional regulation” from the federal government.

The social ministry in Saxony said the step to end the epidemic emergency situation seemed “premature” in view of the infection incidence and the number of Covid patients in Saxon hospitals. Health ministers will have to “find a responsible solution”, the ministry said.

Heike Werner (Left party), who’s the health minister of Thuringia, said that Spahn had “rightly pointed out that a formal end to the epidemic situation does not equate to an end to the pandemic”. And in view of “sharply rising infection figures” in Thuringia, called for the continuation of measures, “at best on a nationwide basis”.

Covid outbreak at Berghain ‘2G’ club night

Meanwhile, the first Covid outbreak at the famous Berlin nightclub Berghain – which is only open to people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid – has been detected. 

According to the Berliner Morgenpost, at least 19 people have been infected with Covid at a party there. A total of 15 of them live in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district. Four others affected live in other districts of Berlin.

According to the spokeswoman, about 2,500 people have been contacted so far. This had been done with the help of the attendance list, which the health department requested after the first Covid case surfaced.

The club opened its indoor space on October 2nd for the first time since the forced shutdown in March 2020. The club is only open to people who’ve been vaccinated (geimpft) or have recovered from Covid (genesen) – so-called 2G rules. People who are unvaccinated are not allowed to enter the club, even with a negative Covid test.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now