Germany reports no daily Covid deaths: What does it mean?

For the first time since September 2020, Germany hasn't reported a single coronavirus death within 24 hours. But patchy data means we are not getting the full story.

A sign for Covid tests in Hamburg.
A sign for Covid tests in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonas Walzberg

On Monday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 4,032 infections and zero Covid-related deaths. 

It’s a figure that everyone wants to hear. But unfortunately the numbers do not provide the complete picture of what’s going on. That’s because at the moment only a handful of German states report new cases over the weekend.

Instead, they submit the details later. For that reason, the figures are skewed. 

German data journalist Olaf Gersemann tweeted the news, but added that back in 2020 “there were no widespread registration strikes in the federal states on weekends” unlike today. 

READ ALSO: Germany to shorten mandatory Covid isolation

What other trends can we see?

The nationwide 7-day incidence has continued to fall. On Monday there were 639.5 Covid infections per 100,000 people. Yesterday the incidence was 666.4, a week ago it was 790.8, and in the previous month the incidence was 1,531.5.

However, once again the incidence does not provide the whole picture of the development of infection because of various factors, including delays in reporting and the testing behaviour of the population.

In its weekly report published on Thursday April 28th, the RKI said that caution was needed when interpreting case numbers. They said that due to holidays, such as the recent Easter break and May 1st, there could be “associated lower test activity, as well as the subsequent reports”.

However, the RKI did point out some encouraging trends. 

“The peak of the current wave has clearly passed and many hospitalisation indicators also continue to decrease,” said the RKI. 

“The number of persons with a Covid-19 diagnosis treated in an intensive care unit has fallen slightly, as in previous weeks, and stood at 1,446 cases on 27.04.2022,” said the RKI in its report. 

But they added: “Nevertheless, the infection pressure remains high with more than 750,000 cases reported to the RKI within one week.”

The RKI also said that the strain on the health care system is continuing “mainly due to the limited availability of medical staff”.

Experts said that the Omicron sub variant BA.2 is the dominant strain in Germany, accounting for around 97 percent of Covid infections according to a recent sample.

Member comments

  1. Wait. So restrictions were lifted and the numbers are going down?
    So lockdowns and mask mandates and all the rest were not effective?
    The virus is going to virus. All remaining restrictions should just be lifted at this point.

    Or are we still pretending that the only reasons the cases are so low now are because health authorities are so overwhelmed?

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Germany could still be hit by winter Covid wave, health minister warns

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has criticised states that have loosened their Covid restrictions in recent weeks, as he warned that Germany could be on the brink of another wave.

Germany could still be hit by winter Covid wave, health minister warns

Speaking on Bayerischer Rundfunk Thursday, Lauterbach said he expected Covid infection numbers to rise again over the next weeks.

With Germany “likely at the start of a new winter wave”, Lauterbach said he could not understand states that had started to loosen their existing rules. 

“It feels kind of like a bidding war to see which state can relax their rules first,” he said. “That’s just a little bit populist.” 

Pointing to the some 1,000 people who continue to die each week after contracting Covid, Lauterbach said the existing rules were there to protect people who could not fully protect themselves.

Earlier this week, Bavaria became the second federal state to announce plans to scrap mandatory masks on local public transport, with state premier Markus Söder saying he was “convinced” that the rule could be phased out in either December or January. 

READ ALSO: Bavaria signals end to compulsory masks on public transport

The northern state of Schleswig-Holstein had already made a similar announcement earlier this month, with the mask-wearing rule due to end in the new year.

Speaking on Bayerischer Rundfunk, Lauterbach dismissed changes to the current restrictions as “reckless” and stressed that the Federal Health Ministry didn’t support plans to relax the rules.

Four states have also taken a further step towards liberalisation in recent weeks by ending the obligation to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid.

Under the current Infection Protection Act, only masks on long-distance transport, in clinics, and in care facilities are mandated on a federal level, while states are allowed to set their own mask-wearing rules on local public transport and in other public spaces.

Pandemic ‘nearly over’ 

While a handful of states look to relax their measures, top virologist Christian Drosten, who sits on the government’s panel of Covid experts, has signaled that the pandemic could soon be drawing to an end.

According to Drosten, the pattern of waves earlier this year show that increasingly small factors are enough to end a slew of infections. At the end of October, for example, a few weeks of summery weather broke the autumn wave entirely.

“The situation for the virus is becoming precarious,” Drosten told Die Zeit. “That is good. It is no longer the case that the virus could completely turn the game around with a few mutations.” 

The Berlin-based virologist said he didn’t expect a more dangerous or deadly mutation of the virus to emerge in the coming months. 

Christian Drosten and Karl Lauterbach

Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology and Charite Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and RKI chief Lothar Wieler speak at a press conference in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Nevertheless, Drosten warned that the winter could be “difficult” if the highly infectious BQ.1.1 subtype became the dominant variant.

Epidemiologist Klaus Stöhr agreed with Drosten’s assessment, telling Bild that the signs were pointing towards a transition from the pandemic to the endemic phase, largely due to the levels of immunity among the population.

New variants and mutations were bound to appear, he said. 

“But that a variant appears that changes the clinical picture enormously or even worsens it and/or bypasses the acquired immune protection – we don’t see that happening!”

READ ALSO: German opposition leader calls for official end to pandemic next year

Uptick in infections

After falling steadily for a number of weeks, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 stood at 187 on Thursday, up from 178 the previous day.

This represents a slight drop from the previous week’s value of 199 and a significant decline compared to last month’s figure of 584.

However, experts say the incidence has become far less meaningful in recent weeks in light of the massive drop-off in testing – and particularly the negligible number of people who are taking PCR tests. 

According to the latest report from the Robert Koch Institute, 1,566 people were hospitalised with Covid within 24 hours, while 164 people died after contracting the virus.