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COVID-19

Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Christian Drosten, head of virology at Berlin’s Charite University Hospital, has warned that “a very tough winter with new shutdown measures” awaits Germany due to the rapid spread of coronavirus.

Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin.
Christian Drosten, head of virology at Charite Hospital in Berlin. Photo: dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd

If Germany does not immediately return to tough contact restrictions at least 100,000 people will die, Drosten predicted on his NDR podcast, adding that “that is a conservative estimate”.

“We have a real emergency situation now,” he said. “We need to do something immediately.”

Drosten’s gloomy warning came as the country recorded yet another record day of cases with 39,676 new infections confirmed.

Hospitals are also slowly filling up with Covid patients again. The Charite Hospital in Berlin, one of the largest hospitals in the country, confirmed on Tuesday that it was postponing all non-critical operations.

Drosten said that the German government would need to discuss measures “that we actually hoped to have behind us”.

“We probably have to control the spread of infection again through contact restrictions – not probably, but certainly,” he added.

But he admitted that sweeping national contact restrictions could face problems in the courts.

READ ALSO: What to do if you get a red alert on Germany’s Covid warning app

Doubts over testing

“You could go for booster vaccinations instead of contact restrictions,” Drosten said. “That’s something I really believe in, too.”

However, he admitted that that would take time. In the long term, he said, the “ideal goal” must be to have “a population completely vaccinated three times over”.

He raised doubts about both 2G and 3G entry rules into venues. 3G, which allows vaccinated (geimpft), recovered (genesen) and negative tested people (getestet) to enter facilities such as restaurants, could lead to an unvaccinated person catching the virus from a vaccinated person, he said.  

Health experts say people who are unvaccinated are more likely to suffer a severe course of Covid-19 if they get it, and this group also make up the majority of patients in intensive care wards. 

Meanwhile, 2G closes the “back door” of the testing option, but it shifts contacts into the private sphere. Since vaccinated people can also pass on the pathogen, “the virus will simply come into the home,” Drosten said.

German politicians and health experts are divided on which Covid health pass entry rules are the best path for the country. 

Drosten further slammed a plan by the government-in-waiting to bring back free testing as a means of avoiding new lockdowns. “Tests are being put forward as an emergency brake to break the wave. But that won’t be enough.”

He added that the only way out of the pandemic was to “close the gaps” in vaccination by reaching people who hadn’t yet been inoculated.

SEE ALSO: Why are so many Germans reluctant to get vaccinated?

Member comments

  1. I dont see why I should be locked down again because of stupid morons that refuse to be vaccinated. It clearly needs to be mandated.

  2. Yes. The virus is here to stay. It WILL be in our homes at some point…period. Best is to get vaccinated and get us all back to living a normal life. No masks, no contacts, no vaccine passports. If you choose to not be vaccinated, that’s your problem. You may get sick and die. Tough. Isn’t time to get back to treating adults like adults Germany?

    1. The unvaccinated are already overwhelming the hospitals. You can’t lift all restrictions and say it’s not our problem. Masks shouldn’t go away for a long time, but 2G/3G is a silly debate given most places don’t even check for anything.

      1. Then its time to FORCE places to stick to the 2G rules or face closure. And I agree regarding the masks. They shouldnt be ditched anytime soon.

      2. That’s not correct. Both the unvaccinated and vaccinated are overwhelming the hospitals. It’s obvious at this point that the vaccines are not as effective as they were portrayed.
        Here’s a good example–in Tübingen, half of the Bach Choir half been infected with Covid. 100% of the members were vaccinated:

        https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/baden-wuerttemberg/bachchor-infiziert-100.html

        Furthermore, forcing extreme measures, such as 2G (and 2G plus soon, where even vaccinated and recovered have to test) will cause more infections. The reason for this is because as more places restrict access, people will find riskier environments to congregate in.

        Lastly, Sweden, one of the European countries that that did not impose restrictive measures on its population (not even masking) has one of the third lowest cases of Covid, while Ireland, one of the countries with the highest number of vaccinated and 2G) has some of the highest number of infections…

        1. 90% of those in ICUs are unvaccinated. Stop finding excuses for not doing the right thing. I dont see why i should be locked down again because of your irresponsible behaviour

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COVID-19 RULES

Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

People in Germany have to isolate at home for at least five days if they test positive for Covid. But four states want to see a change to this rule.

Four German states call for end to mandatory Covid isolation

In a joint letter, the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, and Schleswig-Holstein called on Health Minister Karl Lauterbach to drop the isolation requirement for people who get a Covid infection in Germany. 

Baden-Württemberg health minister Manne Lucha, of the Greens, said there should be a move towards people taking personal responsibility rather than the state ordering an isolation period, reported the Tagesschau. 

“We should gradually get into the mode of treating a corona infection like any other infectious disease where the rule is: if you are sick, stay at home,” said the Green politician.

The rules on isolation differ slightly from state to state in Germany, but the general requirement is that people who test positive for Covid have to go into isolation at home and avoid all contact with people outside the household. The isolation period lasts at least five days or a maximum of 10 days.

In some states, and for hospital and care workers, a negative test is required to end the isolation period early.

Several politicians – as well as Andreas Gassen, chairman of the board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, have previously spoken out in favour of ending all Covid isolation and quarantine obligations.

READ ALSO: Should Germany get rid of Covid mandatory isolation?

The four German states called on Lauterbach, of the Social Democrats, to change the rules by October 10th.

In their letter, they refer to Austria, where the isolation obligation has been replaced by so-called “traffic restrictions” since August 1st.

Under these rules, people who get Covid-19 have to wear an FFP2 mask for 10 days in most places, and they are not allowed to visit nursing homes and clinics. They can, however, go to their workplace.

“The end of mandatory isolation has not led to any relevant increase in reported cases in Austria,” the four German health ministers said in their letter.

They argued that much of the population in Germany is immunised, either through vaccination or infection.

However, Lauterbach has so far rejected calls to get rid of the isolation requirement. He said that due to Covid cases rising, he didn’t want to “add fuel to the fire” and increase the risk of infections occurring in companies or at gatherings.

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU), said he was worried about lots of people having to take time off work to isolate at the same time, which could put pressure on critical infrastructure. 

Schleswig-Holstein’s health minister Kerstin von der Decken (CDU), said the adjustment of the isolation rules would be “a step on the way back to normality.”

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