Germany sees more than 200,000 Covid infections in 24 hours

Germany has logged a new daily record of Covid infections as hospital bosses say they are preparing for an influx of new patients.

People walk past a Covid test centre in Hanover, Lower Saxony.
People walk past a Covid test centre in Hanover, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Ole Spata

On Thursday, health authorities reported 203,136 new infections within 24 hours, as well as 188 Covid-related deaths. 

A week ago, 133,536 daily Covid cases were reported. 

The 7-day incidence rose above the one-thousand mark for the first time – there were 1017.4 Covid infections per 100,000 people on Thursday. On Wednesday, the incidence was 940.6, and a week ago it was 638.8.

In view of the Omicron wave hitting the country hard, German hospitals are preparing for new patients.

The current number of people infected will have an impact on hospitals in seven to 10 days, said the chairman of the German Hospital Association, Gerald Gaß.

READ ALSO: ‘Hard to keep up’: Your verdict on Germany’s ever-changing Covid rules 

“This means that we will also experience a high dynamic of new admissions to hospitals in the coming days and probably weeks,” Gaß told broadcaster ZDF.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, there are currently around 2,663 Covid patients in intensive care units in Germany with 1,311 receiving ventilation treatment. 

Meanwhile, the number of Covid patients admitted to hospitals per 100,000 residents within seven days was 4.26 on Wednesday. But experts fear this will increase further due to the high number – around three million – of unvaccinated people over the age of 60 in Germany. 

Staff absences

Gaß said another issue is that there are major staffing issues because employees are battling Covid infections themselves, or having to isolate for other reasons.

“This is putting a strain on the hospitals,” he said.

Half of German hospitals already reported occupancy restrictions last week, he said, adding: “At the moment, however, it is not the case that care is at risk.”

In the previous waves of Covid, the overload of intensive care units with Covid-19 patients led to operations on other patients having to be cancelled.

Due to the fact that Omicron causes milder illness than previous variants, Gaß said he doesn’t expect hospitals to struggle in the same way during the coming weeks.

“We do not seem to be facing this situation at the moment,” he said. “But of course – the high occupancy on the normal wards also puts a strain on the staff and ultimately on the hospital as a whole.”

Another issue facing hospitals is that employees need to show proof of being vaccinated against Covid by March 15th. There are fears that many will refuse to be vaccinated and quit their jobs, leaving more gaps in the workforce.

Gaß said hospitals are hoping for the so-called ‘dead’ or ‘inactivated’ vaccine – where the virus is killed off – from Novavax to be available quickly. 

Health officials believe that vaccination sceptics will be more open to this type of vaccine rather than the mRNA or vector vaccines.

READ ALSO: German MPs set out plans for vaccine mandates

Gaß said medical bosses would try everything to convince their unvaccinated employees to get their shots. 

If they can’t be convinced, unvaccinated employees face being let go from their jobs without continued payment of wages, he said. 

Member comments

  1. 188 covid deaths. Germany has on average around 2,500 deaths per day.
    Germany has 21,021 occupied intensive care beds. Of which only 2,663 are covid related.
    What percentage of the hospital admissions are because of covid. Or just so happen to have covid.

    As tragic as it all is. Any death is devastating. Covid is no longer accounting for a large proportion of excess deaths as is widely believed. In actuality Covid accounted for 4% of all deaths in 2020. Cardiovascular on the other hand acounted for 34% . My question is. Are we blowing this all out of proportion? Why?
    What is the collateral damage being done for example suicide?
    How many deaths are we willing to accept in order to prevent a covid death.
    How many peoples livelihoods are we willing to destroy?

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.