Germany sees highest number of daily Covid deaths since February

The number of daily Covid-related deaths in Germany has increased significantly within a week, while the 7-day incidence fell for the second day in a row.

A face mask on the ground in Cologne, western Germany.
A face mask on the ground in Cologne, western Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said on Wednesday that 446 people with Covid-19 had died in Germany within the last 24 hours – an increase of 33 percent compared to a week ago when 335 coronavirus deaths were logged.

It’s the highest number of daily deaths recorded in Germany since February 20th this year when there were 490 Covid-related deaths.

As many hospitals are struggling to cope with, experts are worried about how bad it will get. 

The President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Gernot Marx, said he expects Germany to see about 6,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care by Christmas – regardless of any new measures planned by the government and states.

Germany logged the highest number of Covid patients in ICUs (5,745) on January 3rd this year.

The situation now is particularly worrying because there are about 4,000 fewer intensive care beds available than a year ago, said Marx.

“The situation is really becoming increasingly tight,” he added.

He called on the incoming government – made up of a coalition between the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and FDP – to reintroduce the “epidemic situation of national importance” which was lifted on November 25th.

A temporary lockdown or a nationwide emergency brake could help, he said, adding: “We need to save the clinics from collapse.”

Currently there are about 4,636 people with Covid-19 – mostly unvaccinated – being treated in ICUs, with about half receiving ventilation treatment.

The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospitals per 100,000 residents was 5.73 on Tuesday. This number plays an important role for politicians when they are deciding on new measures.

Germany on Wednesday registered 67,186 Covid-19 infections within 24 hours. Meanwhile, the 7-day incidence fell again for the second day in a row.

The RKI said there were 442.9 infections per 100,000 people – down from 452.2 the previous day. There are hopes that it could be the sign of infections beginning to stagnate but experts have warned that the incidence is likely to increase again. 

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

The states of Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria are some of the worst hit in the fourth wave. Most of the 32 districts with 7-day incidences above 1,000 are in these regions. The vaccination rate is also lower than in most other federal states.

In a bid to increase the number of people inoculated in Germany, there are plans for the Bundestag to hold a vote on introducing a general vaccine mandate. Incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said he was in favour of compulsory vaccination. 

German leaders are also discussing bringing in tougher measures like closures of bars and clubs to try and break the fourth wave. Decisions are expected to be made on Thursday. 

Member comments

  1. “The states of Saxony, Thuringia and Bavaria are some of the worst hit in the fourth wave. Most of the 32 districts with 7-day incidences above 1,000 are in these regions. The vaccination rate is also lower than in most other federal states.”

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Germany’s weekly Covid infection rate rises above 500

Germany recorded a weekly Covid incidence of more than 500 per 100,000 people on Monday as health experts warn that the fifth wave of the pandemic has only just begun.

Bar in Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, which has the highest incidence in the country.
People sit outside bars in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, where incidences are currently the highest in the country. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

On Monday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 528, up from 515 the day before and 376 a week ago. 

Infections have been rising rapidly as the highly transmissible Omicron variant tightens its hold in Germany. Monday marked the fourth day in a row in which the country posted record incidences.

Since the first incidence of the variant was discovered in the country around seven weeks ago, Omicron has swiftly taken over as the dominant variant in Germany.

It currently accounts for around 73 percent of Covid infections and is expected to almost entirely replace the Delta variant this week. 

Though Omicron generally causes a less severe illness than Delta, experts are concerned that deaths and hospitalisations could remain high due to the unprecedented number of cases Germany could see.

Unlike Delta, Omicron has a large number of mutations that allow it to evade previously built up immunity through vaccinations and illness. 

The World Health Organisation has warned that half of all Europeans could be infected with the virus by spring. 

“After the temporary decline in case numbers, severe disease courses and deaths towards the end of 2021 in the fourth wave, the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has begun in Germany with the dominant circulation of the omicron variant,” the Robert Koch Institute wrote in its weekly report on Thursday.  

Since the first Omicron case was discovered in Germany, there have been 191,422 suspected or proven cases of the variant.

As Welt data journalist Olaf Gersemann pointed out in Twitter, the number of Omicron cases has increased sixfold within a fortnight. 

Increase in hospitalisations

Before this weekend, Germany had hit its previous peak of infections back in November, when the country posted a 7-day incidence of 485 per 100,000 people at during the peak of the fourth wave.

Since then, Covid measures such contact restrictions and blanket 2G (entry only for the vaccinated and recovered) or 2G-plus (vaccinated or recovered with a negative test) have been relatively effective at turning the tide. 


For the past few weeks however, infections have been on the up once again as the Omicron fifth wave begins.

The incidence of hospitalisations in the country appears to also be on the rise again after a few weeks of decline. On Friday, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisations stood at 3.24 per 100,000 people, up from 3.13 the day before.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned that Omicron could place additional pressure on the general hospital wards as fewer people end up in intensive care. 

“Depending on how things develop, we may face shortages not only in the intensive care units, but also in the normal wards. There is a threat of entire departments being closed,” he said.

“Rapid spread of the virus would mean hundreds of thousands will become seriously ill and we will have to mourn many thousands of deaths again.” 

Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at a weekly press conference on Friday, January 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Northern states post record incidences

Since the start of the Omicron wave, northern Germany has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

As of Monday, the city-state of Bremen had the highest incidence in the country, with 1389 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in a week.

This was followed by Berlin, which currently has a 7-day incidence of 948, and Hamburg, which recorded a 7-day incidence of 806. The district with the highest incidence in Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which posted a weekly incidence of 1597 on Monday. 

In contrast to the fourth wave, the lowest Covid incidences were recorded in the eastern states of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. 

On Monday, Thuringia had a weekly incidence of 198 per 100,000 people, while Saxony’s incidence was 249 and Saxony-Anhalt’s was 280.

Somewhat inexplicably, the incidence has been declining in Thuringia in recent weeks, though there is speculation that this could be to do with the fact that Omicron has not yet spread in the state.

Nine of the sixteen German states have incidences of more than 500 per 100,000 people.