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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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.