Germany’s Covid incidence sinks – but experts warn of under-reporting

A sign at a shop in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt says entry is only for people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.
A sign at a shop in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt says entry is only for people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert
Germany's 7-day incidence of Covid infections is falling, sparking hope. But experts say health officials are struggling to report all cases, suggesting the downwards trend may be artificial.

The Covid incidence dropped to 432.2 infections per 100,000 people within a seven day period on Tuesday. The incidence was 441.9 the day before, and a week ago it was 452.2 (a month ago it was 191.5).

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there were 36,059 Covid infections reported throughout Germany in the last 24 hours – significantly fewer than in the previous week, when there were 45,753 daily infections logged on the same day. 

There are hopes that these are signs of a trend reversal that shows Germany is finally gaining some control over the fourth wave. 

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However, experts say there is significant under-reporting which could be skewing the picture. They say one of the main reasons is because health authorities and clinics  – at least in some areas – cannot keep up with the sheer number of cases.

This is shown by the latest figures in Saxony. Covid cases appeared to fall sharply on Tuesday to 949 daily cases. Yet on Monday, authorities in Saxony reported around 4,242 cases, and a week ago there were 6,627 new infections, raising questions about incomplete reporting. 

For comparison, the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has a much smaller population, registered 3,009 new infections Tuesday.

Data journalist Olaf Gersemann says this suggests the falling numbers may unfortunately be “too good to be true”.

RKI chief Lothar Wieler said on Friday that the number of infections was “still far too high” and that it was “far too soon to talk of a trend reversal and avoid stricter measures”.

Wieler added that health authorities were no longer able to keep track of all the infections.

“In some states we may be seeing the early effects of new Covid measures, in others the capacity has been exhausted,” Wieler said.

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Deaths still at a high level 

The number of Covid-related deaths in Germany remains at a high level. Nationwide, 399 deaths were recorded within 24 hours. 

Meanwhile, the number of Covid patients admitted to hospitals in Germany per 100,000 people in seven days was 5.32 on Monday (on Friday it was 5.52). 

Around 4,900 patients are currently in intensive care wards across Germany with a Covid infection, according to the DIVI intensive care register. Of those, just over half are receiving ventilation treatment.

Doctors have repeatedly told how some hospitals are overwhelmed, with many having to cancel planned operations or even transfer Covid patients elsewhere for treatment.

Bundestag debates Covid measures and mandates

On Tuesday, the Bundestag was set to discuss planned compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for staff in hospitals and nursing homes.

MPs will also discuss plans to ramp up vaccinations in Germany and possible amendments to the Infection Protection Act that would see German states get more power to bring in stricter Covid measures such as restaurant closures. 

READ ALSO: Could German states order bar and restaurant closures under new Covid laws?


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