Germany logs 1.5 million weekly Covid infections as Omicron subtype spreads

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 25 Mar, 2022 Updated Fri 25 Mar 2022 09:54 CEST
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A positive Covid test lies on a mask. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

German health offices reported 1.5 million Covid-19 cases within a week for the first time, a new report shows.

Health experts say the Omicron subtype BA.2 is spreading quickly in Germany. 

According to the latest available data relating to two weeks ago, the share of BA.2 in a random sample was around 72 percent, up from around 64 percent previously.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said in its weekly report that the variant is gaining a large share of the infection incidence, while the role of the previously predominant Omicron type BA.1 is getting smaller.

BA.2 is considered a driver of the current infection incidence and explosion in infections, though relaxed restrictions and behavioural changes in the population have also played a role.

READ ALSO: Germany sees more than 300,000 Covid infections within 24 hours

The authors of the report stressed the importance of people continuing to behave cautiously - and underlined the benefits of vaccination despite Omicron.

"Vaccination has not lost its importance due to its high effectiveness against a severe course even in cases of disease caused by the Omicron variant," they said.

The RKI puts the estimated effectiveness of the booster vaccination at preventing hospitalisation at 87 percent for people aged 60 and over, who are considered particularly at risk.

With basic immunisation (two shots), it would be 75 percent in this age group.

On Twitter, the institute added that complete vaccination - and especially boosters - provide very good protection against severe illness and death. The institute said that the severity of the disease is generally lower after vaccination.

The RKI called on at-risk groups and people over 70 to protect themselves against severe disease with a second booster vaccination, in accordance with the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Vaccination. According to the report, about 1.67 million people have made use of this option so far.

Although the incidence was particularly high among people aged 5 to 44 last week, the strongest increase was observed among senior citizens aged 75 to 79, the RKI said.

Outbreaks in nursing homes have continued to go up in recent weeks. "The increase in severe courses of the disease particularly affects the age group of those aged 80 and over," said the RKI in its report.

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