EXPLAINED: Why Germany’s stabilising Covid incidence might be a false dawn

An Ordnungsamt employee checks a restaurant's Covid entry rules in Hanover.
An Ordnungsamt employee checks a restaurant's Covid entry rules in Hanover. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Ole Spata
The 7-day incidence of Covid infections in Germany fell slightly on Tuesday for the first time in more than three weeks - but it is still well above 400 cases per 100,000 residents.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the number of new infections per 100,000 residents per week stands at 452.2 – the first time the figure has dropped in more than three weeks.

On Monday, Germany logged 452.4 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. A week ago, the incidence was 399.8, and a month ago it was 153.7.

However, experts have warned that it might not be a sign of infections beginning to stabilise in Germany. Instead it could be that local health offices are struggling to report all infections. 

German data journalist Olaf Gersemann, who analyses Covid data, said the incidence is “likely to be revised upwards significantly in the coming days”.

He said that’s because authorities can “no longer keep up with reporting”.

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Large regional differences

The German state with the highest incidence is Saxony which has clocked up an alarming 1268.9 infections per 100,000 people in seven days. Thuringia follows with an incidence of 936.8. Next is Brandenburg (727.8) and Saxony-Anhalt (717.2)

The 7-day incidence of infections in Bavaria stands at 618.2 per 100,000 people, the fifth highest among the German states.

The lowest incidence among the states is Schleswig-Holstein which currently has 150.1 Covid cases per 100,000 people.

Are Covid measures having an effect?

Germany has been pushing for people to get vaccinated against Covid and receive their booster shot in the last weeks, which has resulted in more shots being carried out. 

States have also tightened their entry rules into many public spaces, meaning access to places like restaurants or bars is only allowed for those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid (so-called 2G rules). 

Some areas – including Saxony and Bavaria – have gone further and closed venues like bars, while implementing lockdown-style measures in the hardest hit districts.

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach told German broadcaster Tagesschau that these restrictions may be having an effect, but “more needs to be done”.

“Some measures have already been taken,” he said. “We can already see the effect of the measures taken, but not enough.”

Lauterbach said that contact restrictions as well as closures of public areas – such as clubs, bars and discos – is needed nationwide.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel and incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz are holding emergency crisis talks with state leaders on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of tougher restrictions. 

READ ALSO: German leaders to discuss tougher Covid restrictions

What’s going on in hospitals?

The deciding factor for tightening Covid measures is the so-called hospitalisation incidence.

This number indicates how many people per 100,000 residents have to be treated in hospital within seven days because of a Covid-19 infection.

If a state hits a hospitalisation rate of 3, the 2G rule (only vaccinated and recovered people are allowed to enter many public places) applies. The states can impose stricter measures if the incidence numbers of 6 and 9 are exceeded.

On Monday, the incidence of hospitalisation nationwide was 5.52.

However, in the worst-hit areas intensive care units are overrun, and patients are having to be transferred to other areas – even abroad in some cases.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, around 4,599 Covid-19 patients are currently in intensive care units in Germany. Of these, 2,356 patients are receiving ventilation. 

READ ALSO: Germany must be prepared for Omicron variant, warns top virologist


Member comments

    1. German COVID statistics are notoriously unreliable on Sundays / Mondays / Tuesday due to a massive drop off in the number of tests on weekends and due to bureaucrats not updating figures quickly enough after that. So a tiny drop one day in the beginning of the week means nothing, unfortunately…

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