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Is Germany heading into next Covid wave?

The Local Germany
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Is Germany heading into next Covid wave?
A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

Covid-19 infections in Germany had been dropping in recent weeks, but cases appear to be picking up again as autumn arrives. Here's a look at the current situation.

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Autumn has officially arrived in Germany, and with it the temperatures have been falling. 

So perhaps it's no surprise that more people are getting sick - and Covid cases seem to be rising. 

According to the Robert Koch Institute's (RKI) latest report, the nationwide 7-day incidence of Covid cases per 100,000 people climbed by 11 percent compared to the week before. 

The largest increase in Covid infections was in the 50 to 84-year-old age group, the report said. 

The incidence calculation is based on laboratory tests, although these are now being carried out less frequently than in previous phases of the pandemic.

But the RKI has also recorded slight increases in the estimates of those who have contracted Covid-19, and in the number of visits to doctors for this reason.

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Furthermore, the number of reported Covid outbreaks in medical facilities and nursing homes has increased. A few days ago, the Association of Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM) spoke of a trend reversal in its evaluation of PCR tests. Test numbers in specialist laboratories have risen again for the first time in months, they said. 

According to the weekly report, there is no sign yet of a resurgence in serious Covid-19 cases in hospitals and intensive care units. 

"The data show that the number of severe illnesses due to Covid-19 has stabilised at a plateau," said the RKI. 

The 7-day incidence on Friday September 23rd was 294.7 Covid cases per 100,000 people. There were 50,800 confirmed cases in the latest 24 hour period, and 93 deaths. 

Germany has seen six Covid waves

Experts say the Omicron subtype BA.5 continues to account for the vast majority of cases (around 96 percent) in Germany. The RKI says the BA.2.75 subtype, which is under surveillance due to increased global spread, has been detected around 80 times in Germany. More than half of these detections come from the most recent weeks of variant evaluation (August 29th to September 11th). However, only a very small proportion of all positive samples are examined for this.

The RKI said it will only be possible to say whether this is the beginnings of a new wave after more analysis. 

In another RKI publication from Thursday, health experts said the country has seen six waves over the course of the pandemic in Germany so far.

According to the retroactive classification, the sixth wave began in June, and an end date has not yet been defined. Since a renewed increase in respiratory illnesses is to be expected due to the time of year, the impact of Covid cannot be accurately estimated at present, scientists said. 

The paper also emphasises that cases of severe illness are becoming more prominent in assessing the level of risk, "while the sheer number of infections is nowhere near as important as it was at the beginning of the pandemic". 

New Covid-19 rules are coming into Germany from October 1st. They include a requirement to wear masks on long-distance trains and buses, but they will no longer be mandatory on planes. 

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States can decide on several rules, including whether masks have to be worn on local public transport. So far, states have indicated that they will continue to enforce the mask mandate on buses, trains and trams. 

READ ALSO: Germany's new Covid-19 rules from October

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