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COVID-19 STATS

Germany has passed peak of summer Covid wave, says RKI

Germany has made it through the worst of the Covid wave that has swept through the country this summer, according to experts.

A person holds a face mask in Stuttgart.
A person with a face mask in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Covid infections are declining in all federal states and age groups, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said in its weekly report released on Thursday evening. 

Meanwhile, the nationwide 7-day incidence dropped again last week by 27 percent.

According to the weekly report, the number of people reported to have Covid, including symptoms has gone down as well as the number of doctor visits.

The RKI says that the data means that “the current peak of the wave seems to have been passed”. But experts from the public health institute say it is still too early to sound the all-clear on the pandemic. 

It comes after the German Health and Justice Ministry last week released a plan to tackle the Covid development in autumn through to spring next year. 

READ ALSO: Masks and no lockdowns – Germany’s new Covid plan from autumn to Easter

Older groups particularly affected

The number of hospital admissions of people with Covid-19 decreased last week, as did the number of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 in intensive care units (ICUs), the RKI said. Outbreaks across German nursing homes have been decreasing as well. 

The RKI also says there has been a decline in deaths associated with the virus recently – with 372 Covid deaths reported last week compared to 444 the previous week.

Although this shows that Germany seems to have got through the peak of the current wave, the RKI says that people over the age of 80 continue to be the most affected by severe illness.

And despite the improved situation last week, the infection risk remains “high” in all age groups, according to the RKI – as does the burden on the health system.

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, the RKI expects a “continued high number of hospitalisations, Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care and deaths, especially in older age groups”.

For this reason the RKI says it is not sounding the all-clear and urged people to get vaccinated or boosted if they haven’t already. 

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of ‘difficult’ winter

With infection numbers shooting up once again in Germany, states are set to bring in a new set of Covid measures on October 1st.

Germany to bring in new Covid rules ahead of 'difficult' winter

From Saturday, masks will no longer be required on commercial flights, though people will still be expected to wear an FFP2 mask on long-distance trains.

States will also be given the option to introduce mandatory masks in other public indoor spaces, including on local public transport and in schools. If they choose to bring in masks, they’ll also have the freedom to introduce exceptions to masks for people who are recently vaccinated or who have tested negative for Covid.

States will also be able to introduce compulsory testing in schools and nurseries.

READ ALSO: German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Speaking at a press conference alongside Robert Koch Institute (RKI) chair Lothar Wieler on Friday, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach defended the decision to keep Covid rules in place when other countries in Europe have largely got rid of their pandemic measures. 

“It’s not for me to criticise what other countries are doing,” said Lauterbach. “We have a particularly difficult winter ahead of us due to the energy crisis, we don’t want to make it worse through the Covid crisis.”

The SPD politician also defended plans for mandatory masks for residents and staff in nursing and care homes. Having 40 or 50 vulnerable people together in an enclosed space is “extremely high-risk”, he said. 

Under the new rules set to be introduced on Saturday, residents of care homes will be expected to wear FPP2 masks in all common areas of the home, and will only be able to take them off in their bedrooms.

“For people in nursing homes, the FFP2 mask requirement means a considerable cut in their quality of life,” Regina Görner, chairwoman of the Federal Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (Bagso), told DPA:

“The nursing home is their home, in which they can then no longer move freely without a mask.”

Visitors to nursing homes, meanwhile, will have to supply a negative Covid test, while staff will be tested three times a week. 

Under the autumn and winter rules, people across Germany will also be required to wear an FFP2 mask at their doctor’s surgery and in medical outpatient facilities such as hospitals.

“We’re better prepared than last autumn,” Lauterbach told reporters on Friday. “We have the infection numbers under control, we have this wave under control.” 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

Steep rise in cases

As the weather turns colder, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has reported a steep rise in respiratory infections, including Covid-19.

Last week, the number of Covid patients jumped dramatically from 500,000 to 1.2 million per week, with cases rising significantly in every age group.

Meanwhile, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people shot up from 409 on Thursday to 466 on Friday. The previous week, the weekly incidence stood at 294 per 100,000 people. 

The numbers are believed to be partially inflated by the ongoing Oktoberfest beer festival, which is being held for the first time since the pandemic started. In Munich, the location of the festival, the weekly incidence is almost 800. 

Speaking at the press conference in Berlin on Friday, RKI chair Wieler warned people not to get complacent about the threat of infection.

“A mild course of illness simply means not ending up in hospital,” he said. “We should be conscious of how much risk we want take on, and how much risk we can avoid.”

RKI chief Lothar Wieler

Robert Koch Institute chair Lothar Wieler (l) and Heath Minister Karl Lauterbach (r) hold a press conference in Berlin on Friday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Despite the looming energy crisis, the RKI boss advised the public to ensure that rooms were well ventilated, adding that spaces normally occupied by a large number of people should be aired out more regularly.

He also advised people with Covid symptoms to stay home until they felt better in order to avoid passing on any infections, and warned that people should be especially careful to avoid contact with vulnerable people.

“Just like before, these people need our solidarity,” he said. 

Self-isolation and quarantine rules vary from state to state, but people who test positive for Covid generally have to isolate for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10.

In some cases, people can take an additional Covid test in order to end their isolation early.

The RKI has also recommended that people wear a mask in public enclosed spaces. 

READ ALSO: What will the Covid situation in Germany look like this autumn?

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