‘Difficult weeks ahead,’ warns German Health Minister on Omicron fears

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned on Sunday that Germany faces a high death toll and major impact on hospital treatment in the current wave of Covid cases with the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, comments on the current Corona situation at the Federal Press Conference. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld
Karl Lauterbach (SPD), Federal Minister of Health, comments on the current Corona situation at the Federal Press Conference. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

“We are facing very difficult weeks in Germany,” Lauterbach told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“We must not lull ourselves into a false sense of security in view of the currently falling hospital numbers, especially in intensive care units,” he added.

Pointing out that most cases were currently being recorded among younger people, he said that hospital admissions would rise again when older Germans contract the latest variant of the virus.

“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,” Lauterbach warned.

“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,” he said.

New record in case numbers

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported another peak in the seven-day incidence of cases on Sunday morning.

The number of new cases per 100,000 people and week broke the 500 barrier for the first time since the start of the pandemic, rising to 515.7.

Health authorities in Germany reported 52,504 new infections to the RKI within one day.

“We are already seeing this increase in normal wards in some regions, for example in Bremen, Berlin, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein,” the president of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

“In contrast to previous waves, patients will probably arrive in normal wards more frequently in the coming weeks, as the probability of having a severe course is lower with Omicron,” he added.

Omicron is a ‘chance’

Germany’s most respected coronavirus expert, Christian Drosten, told a newspaper the milder Omicron variant of the coronavirus is an “chance” to get into the endemic state of the disease.

“It would be a chance now, assuming broad immunity,” Drosten told Tagesspiegel newspaper.

“In the long run, we can’t keep immunising the whole population every few months via a booster vaccination. That’s what the virus has to do,” he said.

“The virus has to spread, but it has to do so on the basis of a vaccination protection that is anchored in the broad population – otherwise too many people would die.”

READ MORE: What documents do you need to carry for Germany’s 2G-plus restrictions?

Member comments

    1. Dr John Campbell. Youtube video about omicron. Its spread in Germany and the UK. How Scotland has more restrictions than England. Yet higher cases. With links to his data sources.

      We get Karl Lauterbach doom monger extraordinar.

  1. how exactly is he able to predict anything? what data does he have about how this will play out? fear-mongering seems to be his favorite approach, regardless of the outcome.

  2. Is this guy dreaming? Then again, appoint a fanatic as minister of health and this is what you’re bound to get.

  3. If you want sensible, unbiased information look for info put out by John Campbell. He’s been around years and provides evidence to back up what he presents.

  4. Lauterbach has been preaching COVID doom and gloom since he took office.

    Assumes the very worst scenario. Claims “hundreds of thousands” will become seriously ill and “thousands” will die. Based upon what data?? Omicron is less severe than Delta. What a fear monger.

  5. Ok I have changed my mind. In this picture he looks like a ghoul from the fallout Universe.

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Is Germany heading into next Covid wave?

Covid-19 infections in Germany had been dropping in recent weeks, but cases appear to be picking up again as autumn arrives. Here's a look at the current situation.

Is Germany heading into next Covid wave?

Autumn has officially arrived in Germany, and with it the temperatures have been falling. 

So perhaps it’s no surprise that more people are getting sick – and Covid cases seem to be rising. 

According to the Robert Koch Institute’s (RKI) latest report, the nationwide 7-day incidence of Covid cases per 100,000 people climbed by 11 percent compared to the week before. 

The largest increase in Covid infections was in the 50 to 84-year-old age group, the report said. 

The incidence calculation is based on laboratory tests, although these are now being carried out less frequently than in previous phases of the pandemic.

But the RKI has also recorded slight increases in the estimates of those who have contracted Covid-19, and in the number of visits to doctors for this reason.

Furthermore, the number of reported Covid outbreaks in medical facilities and nursing homes has increased. A few days ago, the Association of Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM) spoke of a trend reversal in its evaluation of PCR tests. Test numbers in specialist laboratories have risen again for the first time in months, they said. 

According to the weekly report, there is no sign yet of a resurgence in serious Covid-19 cases in hospitals and intensive care units. 

“The data show that the number of severe illnesses due to Covid-19 has stabilised at a plateau,” said the RKI. 

The 7-day incidence on Friday September 23rd was 294.7 Covid cases per 100,000 people. There were 50,800 confirmed cases in the latest 24 hour period, and 93 deaths. 

Germany has seen six Covid waves

Experts say the Omicron subtype BA.5 continues to account for the vast majority of cases (around 96 percent) in Germany. The RKI says the BA.2.75 subtype, which is under surveillance due to increased global spread, has been detected around 80 times in Germany. More than half of these detections come from the most recent weeks of variant evaluation (August 29th to September 11th). However, only a very small proportion of all positive samples are examined for this.

The RKI said it will only be possible to say whether this is the beginnings of a new wave after more analysis. 

In another RKI publication from Thursday, health experts said the country has seen six waves over the course of the pandemic in Germany so far.

According to the retroactive classification, the sixth wave began in June, and an end date has not yet been defined. Since a renewed increase in respiratory illnesses is to be expected due to the time of year, the impact of Covid cannot be accurately estimated at present, scientists said. 

The paper also emphasises that cases of severe illness are becoming more prominent in assessing the level of risk, “while the sheer number of infections is nowhere near as important as it was at the beginning of the pandemic”. 

New Covid-19 rules are coming into Germany from October 1st. They include a requirement to wear masks on long-distance trains and buses, but they will no longer be mandatory on planes. 

States can decide on several rules, including whether masks have to be worn on local public transport. So far, states have indicated that they will continue to enforce the mask mandate on buses, trains and trams. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October