Germany debates Covid masks in the health sector during flu season

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Germany debates Covid masks in the health sector during flu season
A face mask lies among the autumn leaves. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

With the number of Covid cases rising in recent weeks, and with the cold and flu season coming soon, the topic of wearing face masks is surfacing in Germany again.


Throughout the Covid pandemic, face masks were often mandatory in Germany, including on public transport and in hospitals and doctor's practices. 

There are no plans to bring back Covid restrictions, however, health experts in Germany are considering whether recommending masks again in some areas would make sense. 

Health policy spokesman for the Greens parliamentary group, Janosch Dahmen, has spoken out in favour of wearing face masks, at least in some situations, during the colder months. 

"In order to protect yourself from acute respiratory diseases, it may make sense to wear a protective mask in care facilities, clinics and other parts of the healthcare system this autumn," Dahmen told the editorial network Germany (RND).

He is concerned about the situation in the southern hemisphere, where the number of infections with flu and Covid-19 has increased significantly over their winter.

"There are increasing indications that the burden in the healthcare system due to acute respiratory infections could rise significantly again in the coming autumn/winter season," said Dahmen.

READ ALSO: German doctors urge Covid-19 self-test amid new variant 

Dahmen said authorities would need to monitor the Covid situation closely. 

"It is important to keep a close eye on the early warning systems here... in order to detect a critical increase early on," he said.

Older people and at-risk groups are being advised to keep-up-to date with their vaccinations and talk to their doctor about the possibility of top-up Covid and flu jabs.

Meanwhile, the President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, has spoken out against the idea of compulsory masks this autumn and winter, saying there is no reason for concern.


Reinhardt said during the colder seasons an increase in respiratory infections is to be expected. He said there likely would be tense situations in doctors' offices and hospitals due to the combination of Covid-19, flu and the RS virus.

He urged for people to take personal responsibility which could involve wearing a mask if they felt it was needed - rather than calling for obligatory face coverings.

Gerald Gaß, the chairman of the German Hospital Association said staff were noticing the rise in infections - but said it wasn't at the stage of a new Covid wave.

"There are higher infection figures again, there are also more Covid-positive tested patients in intensive care units," Gaß told the Rheinische Post at the beginning of this week.

What's the big picture on Covid in Germany?

There has been a slight increase in the number of reported Covid cases in Germany for about seven weeks. However, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) says incidence levels "remain very low".

Meanwhile, the Corona-Warn-App, which everyone in Germany was encouraged to download to monitor infections, is currently in sleep mode.

At the beginning of June, data collection was suspended. The function for warnings after a positive test was switched off on May 1st due to the relaxed situation. 

The app has cost the German government more than €200 million so far, according to the Health Ministry. 


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