German health agency raises Covid risk level for the vaccinated and recovered
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has raised the risk level for vaccinated and recovered people in Germany from "moderate" to "high" in view of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The RKI said the risk of infection from Covid is believed to be "very high" for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people in Germany.
For people with basic immunisation (vaccinated but without a booster jab), and for those who have recently recovered from Covid-19, the risk has been increased to "high".
The risk for the group of people who are vaccinated and have had a booster shot is assessed as "moderate".
The health agency estimates that the overall risk posed by Covid-19 to the health of the population in Germany is "very high".
Experts from the RKI said they upgraded the risk status due to the "rapid spread of the Omicron variant which according to current knowledge (from other countries) spreads much faster and more effectively than the previous virus variants".
"This can lead to a sudden increase in the number of cases of infection and a rapid overloading of the health system and possibly other areas of care," said the RKI in its statement.
The RKI said the aim in Germany is to "significantly reduce the infection figures at present in order to slow down the dynamics of the spread of the Omicron variant, to minimise severe illnesses and deaths and to relieve the burden on the health system".
The health agency added: "Another important goal is the prevention of long-term consequences, which can also occur after mild courses of the disease and whose long-term effects are not yet foreseeable."
What's the current Covid situation in Germany?
On Tuesday Germany reported 23,428 Covid-19 infections and 462 deaths in the latest 24 hour period. The 7-day incidence was 306.4 infections per 100,000 people.
Infections have largely been stagnating recently due to the receding fourth wave fuelled by the Delta variant.
The RKI said, however, that the 7-day incidences are currently very high in all age groups, especially in the unvaccinated group - and also significantly higher than in the same period last year,
The number of people being treated for hospital with a Covid-19 infection, and the number of deaths, are also still at a high level.
Experts said local authorities are struggling to trace infection chains.
What is Germany planning to do?
As The Local has been reporting, politicians are also concerned with how to deal with the Omicron variant.
Federal and state leaders have a range of measures to consider on Tuesday, including the closure of nightclubs and limiting private gatherings.
A first draft proposes that this could happen from December 28th.
Concerns are growing that an Omicron wave will push Covid infections up in Germany at an unmanageable level.
Munich-based virologist Ulrike Protzer, told broadcaster DW that there could be a "rapid exponential increase".
"If you take the conservative estimate that cases double every three days - or what scientists in Britain are reporting: every two days - you only need a pocket calculator to see that that's extremely fast," she said.
At the start of December Germany introduced fresh restrictions, mainly for unvaccinated people. But now leaders are looking to go further.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) said that people will see "further restrictions on private contacts" to prepare for the spread of the Omicron strain.
Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) told Deutschlandfunk radio: "I am sure that clubs and discos will close, and that we will reduce indoor contacts - for vaccinated people as well."
Meanwhile, Green party health spokesman Janosch Dahmen, said there could be widespread disruption.
"If expert predictions are confirmed and what we're seeing in neighbouring countries continues, then we can't rule out a general lockdown, including everything from businesses to education to private gatherings," he told DW.