German doctors urge Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant

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German doctors urge Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant
Doctors are urging people with cold symptoms to take a test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

Following an increase in reported cases of the new coronavirus variant EG.5, doctors are urging more people to take precautionary measures.


Wait, lockdowns and social distancing - what was that again?

Even for those eager to put the coronavirus pandemic behind them, German doctors are urging a few precautionary measures amid a new variant, the so-called EG.5, which is reportedly spreading throughout Germany. 

Epidemiologist Hajo Zeeb from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology called for people to use self tests - available at pharmacies and drug stores - as soon as they start sniffling.

"Anyone who has cold symptoms should now test themselves again to detect a corona infection and, if possible, not infect anyone else," Zeeb told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

 The tests continued to work reliably, even with the new variant, the expert said.

"We have to assume that many people have just been infected with Covid and think they are just sick with a cold," Zeeb said. "The number of unreported cases is very high, we simply don't know the exact number of cases."

Germany’s GP association (Hausärzteverband) stressed that more people needed to be aware that Covid-19, originally detected in January 2020 for the first time in Germany, is still in circulation and mutating.

 "Currently, more and more practices are noticing Covid cases again. We therefore advise patients to think about a possible Covid 19 infection when they have a cold," Nicola Buhlinger-Göpfarth, deputy head of the association, told RND.

'Don't neglect vaccinations'

The Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) recommends a booster vaccination for people over 60 years of age and any over six months of age with certain previous illnesses - although Buhlinger-Göpfarth said interest in getting a jab has waned significantly since they first became available in early 2021.

"The general practitioners will again address their high-risk patients more intensively about vaccination, especially towards autumn, for example together with the recommendation for flu vaccination," says Buhlinger-Göpfarth.


The number of laboratory-confirmed Covid cases in Germany is rising again, albeit at a relatively low level, reported the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) 

This development has been continuing for about a month, wrote the RKI’s Working Group on Influenza at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in its current report on acute respiratory diseases.

According to the report, about 2,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported nationwide last week. That's more than double the number for the week ending July 9th, when there were about 1,000.

The RKI said, however, there is no indication of a change in disease severity, even though the more recent variants have been reported to be milder overall among people without pre-existing conditions. 

"Overall, however, Covid-19 incidence levels remain very low," RKI wrote.

Germany repealed the last of its Covid protection measures in April, when face masks in doctor’s surgeries and nursing homes were no longer required. 


READ ALSO: Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

As of August 22nd, there have been more than 38.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, and 175,418 deaths from or with the virus, according to the RKI.

A recent study showed how persistent the coronavirus can apparently be, with health complaints increasing two years following an infection. 

Even after milder courses of the disease, certain symptoms occurred more frequently, a team of researchers reported in the current issue of the journal Nature Medicine.



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