Berlin. In view of the new highs in new corona infections in the past few days, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, and the virologist Christian Drosten provided information on the current corona situation on Friday afternoon. Lauterbach warned: “Hospitals and laboratories will reach their limits,” he said at the federal press conference in Berlin. In view of this, he announced that in the event of an overload of testing capacities, health workers should be prioritized for PCR tests. This should enable the new, shorter quarantine times that were decided last week to be implemented. Lauterbach rejected criticism of the lack of PCR test capacities in Germany. Compared to many other European countries, these are “rather high”. “From my point of view, we have no shortage here.” However, one is now in a situation in which one is approaching a full load of the system. “It would always be better if you had more PCR capacity”, but you will be able to control this wave. You can currently see “that the contact measures are working,” emphasized the Minister of Health. Currently you only have 50 percent of the contacts of the “pre-pandemic era”. That’s why Germany doesn’t have the short doubling time that you see in other European countries. This value “should now be around 6.5 days”, previously the number of infections had doubled within four days.
Lauterbach: Want to make a hill out of the omicron wall
“We want to turn the expected wall of infection numbers into a hill, or ensure that the wall is not so high,” announced the SPD minister. Lauterbach did not want to confirm the assumption that Omikron was less dangerous than the previously dominant Delta variant. This cannot be transferred “one to one” to Germany, since in this country there is a particularly high proportion of unvaccinated people in the older population. Lauterbach made it clear that “the news that the whole thing with Omikron would be over” could not be transferred to Germany. Likewise, protection from the recovery of Omikron cannot be expected for other variants. Video Measures against the corona virus: Lauterbach promotes general compulsory vaccination Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) spoke to the members of the Bundestag on Thursday in favor of general compulsory vaccination. © Reuters
Wieler warns of a further increase in the number of cases
RKI boss Wieler estimated the number of currently active corona cases in Germany at a good 800,000, i.e. around one percent of the population. “The number of cases is higher than ever, and they will continue to rise.” Almost every fourth PCR test is positive. Wieler warned that the incidence of hospitalization was rising again. It is currently around 7, with a high of 15 around Christmas. But: “Due to the mass of infections, we unfortunately have to be prepared for the fact that the number of hospitalizations and deaths will increase again.” “We are actually entering a new phase of the pandemic,” confirmed the RKI boss. “The sheer number of cases will not be decisive, but how many people become seriously ill.” However, it is assumed that at the peak of the wave of infections the available data on the pandemic will no longer be complete. Nevertheless, one will be able to assess the situation well.
Drosten announces “difficult double message”
Christian Drosten, virologist at the Berlin Charité, warned against jumping to conclusions about the omicron variant. “This virus is actually milder in its course, but there are far too many cases.” This wiped out the advantage again, he pointed out. He emphasized that the infection curve in Germany is less steep because measures against the delta mutation had already been decided and implemented before the omicron variant appeared. “You have to understand this difference.” But Drosten also warned of the large vaccination gap among the elderly population in Germany. He also had a “difficult double message” to announce: “We will not be able to vaccinate the entire population every few months in the long term in order to receive protection.” This means that the virus will have to “set infections” at some point. There have already been more infections in South Africa, “at a high price”. As a result, the protection of the population is already higher. In view of the vaccination gap, however, one does not know whether one can afford it in Germany. “The virus has to run at some point, but maybe it’s not allowed to do it now,” said Drosten. The virologist gave hope with a view to rising temperatures: Warmer weather and the booster campaign would help reduce the spread, “we can rely on that”. The “endemic state” will either have been reached in Germany by the end of the year “or we are practically there,” said Drosten.
RKI reports over 90,000 new infections
On Friday, the RKI reported more than 90,000 new corona infections within 24 hours for the first time since the pandemic began. According to RKI information on Friday morning, the health authorities passed on 92,223 cases to the institute. This emerges from figures that reflect the status of the RKI dashboard at 4:35 a.m. On Wednesday, the number was greater than 80,000 for the first time. The seven-day incidence also peaked at 470.6. The omicron variant of the corona virus now not only dominates the nationwide infection process, but also the political debate about pandemic measures. In the past week, the federal and state governments had decided on new measures. The quarantine times are to be shortened, but stricter rules in the catering trade also apply.
Quarantine shortening happens in the Bundestag and Bundesrat
On Friday, after the Bundestag, the Bundesrat also approved the shortening of the corona quarantine. The new regulation stipulates, among other things, that triple-vaccinated contact persons of corona infected people no longer have to go into quarantine. In addition, this enables shorter quarantine times in the event of infections in order to prevent a collapse in personnel in important care areas when the number of infections increases sharply. A 2G-plus regulation is to apply nationwide in the catering trade in the future. This means that only those who have been vaccinated twice and those who have recovered with a current corona test have access. People who have already received their booster vaccination, the so-called booster, are exempt from the test requirement. However, the state of Bavaria has already announced that it will not implement 2G-plus in gastronomy for the time being.
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