SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19 STATS

Is Germany heading into next Covid wave?

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.

A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany.
A Covid test centre in Rostock, northern Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

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.

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. 

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 STATS

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. 

SHOW COMMENTS