Germany's Covid-19 infections at their highest since May

BERLIN (REUTERS, AFP) – Germany recorded the highest incidence of Covid-19 infections since mid-May on Saturday (Oct 23), reaching the threshold of 100 cases per 100,000 in the past seven days that used to be the yardstick for imposing a strict lockdown.

However, Health Minister Jens Spahn noted that Germany could cope much better now due to vaccination, although he said restrictions like mask wearing and limits on indoor activity for unvaccinated people would stay until next spring.

The seven-day incidence rate of cases – which until August was used to decide whether to impose more stringent Covid-19 curbs – rose to 100 on Saturday from 95 on Friday, the Robert Koch Institute responsible for disease control said.

A total of 15,145 new infections were reported on Saturday, 4,196 more than the same time last Saturday, it added, and another 86 people died, to bring the total to 95,077.

The rise comes as the leaders of Germany’s 16 states discuss how to proceed after a nationwide state of emergency is set to lapse on Nov 25, meaning restrictions will automatically expire then unless extended by parliamentary vote.

Mr Spahn said on Saturday that it should be possible to lift the state of emergency while still upholding rules requiring mask-wearing and proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test result to enter most indoor public spaces.

“We can obviously deal with higher incidences, higher numbers of infections better, much better without overburdening the health system because so many are already vaccinated,” Mr Spahn said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.

“This path from a state of emergency to a state of special caution to a state of normality, probably in the spring, if there is no new variant, is, I think, also one that gives confidence.”

However, he noted that parts of Germany with lower rates of vaccination – such as Saxony and Thuringia – were already seeing pressure on hospitals from rising infections.

The milestone comes a day after the German health ministry warned that the country is “seeing an escalation of the situation”.

Around 66 per cent of German residents are fully vaccinated, compared with 63.3 per cent of people across the European Union.

Germany’s DIVI intensive care association has voiced alarm at the rise in infections. Senior DIVI expert Christian Karagiannidis wrote on Twitter that there was a “very close correlation” between incidence rates and new Covid-19 hospital admissions.

“The real fourth wave is beginning now and is gathering speed,” he tweeted.

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