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COVID-19

Germany’s Covid situation is ‘stabilising’, says Health Minister

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach says the decline in Covid cases means the situation is "slowly stabilising" in Germany - but urged people not to get complacent.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

The 7-day incidence of Covid infections has been falling in Germany for several days, sparking hope that the country has got through the peak of the fourth wave. 

Experts have pointed out, however, that many cases are probably not being recorded because some health offices are overburdened. 

But the Social Democrat’s resident Covid expert Lauterbach, who took over as German Health Minister in the new coalition government last week, believes data now shows it is not an artificial decline. 

“The situation is slowly stabilising and the decline in the number of cases is real,” said Lauterbach on Twitter.

But he warned: “This trend must not be jeopardised by Christmas. Since the case numbers are still far too high, the booster campaign must be stepped up.”

The Health Minister had retweeted German data journalist Olaf Gersemann who said: “The number of new #Corona cases admitted to intensive care units has stabilised at around 300 per day.”

Lauterbach told broadcaster ARD on Sunday that the strategy now was to administer as many booster jabs as possible in Germany. 

He said getting boosters in people’s arms is “incredibly valuable” because it can end the Delta wave and avert the Omicron wave.

“That will be the focus for me to push that wave down,” he said, adding that he expected specific anti-Omicron vaccines to be available from April or May.

READ ALSO: German state plans Christmas ‘partial lockdown’ to combat Covid

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control, the nationwide 7-day incidence was 389.2 Covid infections per 100,000 people on Monday. A week ago, the nationwide 7-day incidence was 441.9.

In total Germany reported 21,743 Covid infections and 116 deaths within the last 24 hours. However, there was no data submitted for Lower Saxony. A week ago, almost 6,100 more daily Covid cases were recorded throughout Germany (27,836).

Among the German states, Thuringia has the highest incidence with 1032.7 Covid infections per 100,000 people in seven days, followed by Saxony with 1024.5.

The lowest incidence continues to be in Schleswig-Holstein with 162.4. Meanwhile, six municipalities are reporting an incidence below 100.

The number of people in hospitals with Covid infections remains high although the numbers are stabilising. The 7-day incidence of hospitalised cases stands at 5.17 per 100,000 people. 

According to the DIVI Intensive are register, 4,926 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care with around 56 percent receiving ventilation treatment. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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