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COVID-19

Germany’s Covid-19 incidence tops 300 for the first time 

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on Monday reported the number of new infections per 100,000 people in seven days as 303 - the highest incidence since the pandemic began.

A sign outside a chemist in Berlin shows Covid-19 rapid tests are free of charge.
A sign outside a chemist in Berlin shows Covid-19 rapid tests are free of charge. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Health authorities also reported 23,607 Covid-19 infections within 24 hours. Last Thursday, the number of daily infections reached a record high of 50,196 – an increase of over 30,000 within one week. 

The RKI has recorded 5,045,076 confirmed Covid-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, though the actual total is likely to be a lot higher.

The number of Covid patients in hospitals per 100,000 people in seven days (7-day incidence) was 4.65 on Monday. In some areas intensive care units are struggling, while many hospitals are cancelling or rescheduling non-emergency operations to divert staff to critical units. 

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to working from home as infections rise

In light of the rapidly worsening situation, the head of the German Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has called for an extension to the ‘Covid state of emergency’ which is set to expire on November 25th.  

A nationwide Covid-19 state of emergency, which is a special clause in the German constitution, allows the federal and state governments to order measures without the approval of parliaments. It was first declared in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. 

“We continue to have a pandemic of national proportions,” Montgomery told the Rheinische Post. “It is absurd to want to talk about lifting emergency measures in the face of incidences around 300.

“The winter is getting cold. It’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t turn bitter and deadly, too.”

Montgomery also called for significantly increasing the pressure on the unvaccinated.

“Vaccinations should be compulsory for anyone who has a position of responsibility with respect to protected persons, i.e., in old people’s homes, hospitals and schools,” he said.

“Whoever doesn’t want to get vaccinated shouldn’t be allowed to work in these places.”

FDP Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki recently defended the plan to end the state of emergency, telling German news magazine Spiegel: “There is an epidemic situation, but the so-called ‘epidemic situation of national relevance’ is a legal construct that the previous federal government used to give the federal and state governments very far-reaching powers.

“We have to end these serious encroachments on fundamental rights, and parliament must regain control of corona policy.”

The coalition parties negotiating to form a new government are proposing a raft of measures that states can bring in after the state of emergency ends.

Meanwhile, crisis Covid talks are set to take place between the federal government and states this Thursday to decide on how to deal with the spiralling Covid numbers.

READ ALSO: Could Germany really see a lockdown this winter?

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COVID-19 RULES

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

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