Corona up-to-date: The nationwide incidence continues to fall – politics

The nationwide seven-day incidence has fallen again. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gave the value of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants and week on Sunday morning as 1346.3. For comparison: the day before the value was 1350.4. A week ago, the nationwide incidence was 1466.5 (previous month: 638.8). The health authorities in Germany reported 118,032 new corona infections to the RKI within one day.

73 people died in connection with the virus. This increases the number of reported deaths to 121,275. So far, almost 13.6 million corona tests have been positive in Germany.

However, experts assume a high number of cases that are not recorded in the RKI data. Test capacities and health authorities are therefore at the limit in many places, and contacts are only tracked to a limited extent. In addition, there is likely to be a larger number of people who no longer have their infection confirmed by a PCR test – the infection is therefore not included in the official statistics. You can find more information on this in the transparency blog, further data and graphics on the pandemic here. (20.02.2022)

Biden extends corona emergency

US President Joe Biden has extended the national emergency beyond March 1 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. By that date, the state of emergency declared in 2020 by previous President Donald Trump would have automatically expired. Biden said 900,000 Americans have already died from Covid-19. It is therefore still necessary for the federal government to be able to react to the pandemic with all its might. (19.02.2022)

Federal government removes almost 20 countries from the risk list

The federal government is removing almost 20 countries from the list of corona high-risk areas this Sunday, including Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and the USA. This was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Tunisia, Morocco and India, among others, will also be removed from the list. It is easier for travelers coming from countries that are no longer classified as high-risk areas to return to Germany. This time, no country is newly classified as a high-risk area. Anyone entering the country from a high-risk area and not fully vaccinated – i.e. usually twice – or recovered, must be in quarantine for ten days and can free themselves from it at the earliest five days after entry with a negative test. For children who have not yet reached the age of six, the isolation ends automatically five days after entry. The classification as a high-risk area is linked to a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office for non-essential tourist trips. It makes it easier for tourists to cancel trips that have already been booked free of charge, but does not mean a travel ban.

Countries and regions with a particularly high risk of infection are classified as high-risk areas. However, it is not only the number of infections that is decisive for this. Other criteria are the speed at which the virus is spreading, the burden on the healthcare system and the lack of data on the corona situation. (18.02.2022)

Lauterbach: “The maximum we can afford to relax”

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) appeals to the Prime Ministers not to go beyond the relaxation of the corona measures decided at the last federal-state meeting. That was “everything sewn on edge” and “the maximum we can afford to relax,” he said before the federal press conference. Thanks to the various measures, it has “so far been successful in getting through the omicron wave”. However, a renewed increase in the number of cases cannot be ruled out. He stands for a conservative approach, said Lauterbach, who had repeatedly advocated rather tough restrictions. “We’re not really in safe waters yet.”

The SPD politician said that the Omicron variant BA.2 was more contagious than the previously dominant BA.1 variant. One must also assume that the courses are somewhat more serious, although this has so far only been proven in animal studies. At the moment, however, he sees no danger that the hospitals could be overburdened, said Lauterbach. The RKI recorded in its weekly report that the proportion of corona cases examined by BA.2 in a sample has recently risen to 14.9 percent.

RKI Vice President Lars Schaade said he does not expect the virus to disappear in the medium term. “We have to be prepared for the fact that there will be more Covid waves.” Even if the peak of the omicron wave has now been passed, this does not mean there is any relaxation, especially for the hospitals. “The peak for the intensive care units has not yet been reached.” The risk of infection remains high, older people must be further protected. Lauterbach prepared people for many years to come with the risk of a pandemic. One could think of that in a period of ten years.

Lauterbach also made some announcements for the coming week: “On Monday we expect 1.4 million doses of Novavax,” he announced deliveries of the so-called inactivated vaccine. These should essentially be used to implement compulsory vaccination in nursing or retirement homes. Lauterbach also said that he wanted to present details of the care premium early next week. The SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed in the coalition agreement to make one billion euros available for the bonus. The bonus is to be paid to nurses who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Concrete details had been repeatedly postponed, first to the beginning and then to the end of January.

In an interview with the taz the Minister of Health also criticizes the reporting of the Bild-Newspaper sharp about his politics. “The Bild-Zeitung and Springer-Verlag are campaigning against me and spreading untruths,” he said. Their goal is “to play down the pandemic and to discredit the protective measures”.

Die Bild headlined last Thursday: “ICUs were never overloaded.” In an interview with the taz Lauterbach said that this is a “manipulative misrepresentation” of the Bild be. At the peak of the pandemic, 70 percent of the intensive care units were “partially or completely overloaded”. “There was just no nationwide overload of the health system, so not in all places at the same time,” said the minister. Nevertheless, corona patients would have had to be transferred from one federal state to another federal state or even abroad due to a lack of intensive care bed capacities. The fact that the situation was dramatic was that Bild-Editors quite aware, Lauterbach added. “The Bild-Zeitung knows that and makes it out of it: There was never a threat. This is a manipulative hoax.” (18.02.2022)

More than 200 MPs support compulsory vaccination from the age of 18

According to a media report, more than 200 members of the Bundestag have signed the application to introduce general corona vaccination from the age of 18. “To date, 218 MPs have joined our motion for the introduction of general compulsory vaccination and more are being added every hour,” said Deputy SPD parliamentary group leader Dagmar Schmidt Rheinische Post. This means that the application has broad support and forms the basis for the first reading in the Bundestag planned for March.

According to the newspaper report, the signatories are 153 Social Democrats, 60 Greens, three FDP politicians and two Leftists. The Bundestag has a total of 736 MPs, so the number of signatories is still far from a majority.

The draft is to be discussed in the Bundestag as well as a competing proposal for the possible introduction of compulsory vaccination from the age of 50 and a motion against compulsory vaccination without party coercion. The Union faction has also submitted its own application, which initially only provides for a vaccination register and then a graduated plan with a possible vaccination obligation for certain groups depending on the pandemic situation. The traffic light partners have agreed on a first reading on March 14th. (18.02.2022)

RKI weekly report: Omicron variant BA.2 is increasing significantly

The BA.2 variant from Omikron, which can be transferred even more quickly according to initial findings, has increased noticeably in Germany according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The RKI recorded in its weekly report that the proportion of corona cases examined in a sample had recently risen to 14.9 percent. This information refers to the week up to February 6th – for the week before, the RKI gives the share as 10.4 percent.

It is true that there is not yet sufficient data to be able to more precisely assess the properties of the subtype with regard to the severity of the disease. However, due to the progressive spread and easier transferability of BA.2, “a slower decrease or a renewed increase in the number of cases cannot be ruled out,” it says.

The planned relaxation of the corona measures and an associated increase in contacts could therefore also contribute to such a development. Experts have recently increasingly pointed to BA.2 as a possible uncertainty factor. In countries like Denmark, the subtype has already spread rapidly. This is therefore also possible in Germany and, according to many, could ensure that the omicron wave is extended.

The load on the intensive care units is still high. As of Wednesday, 2466 patients who had tested positive for corona had been treated in intensive care units – a week earlier it had been 2398.

In view of the planned easing of the corona measures, the RKI also warns of special consideration when dealing with vulnerable groups. The number of corona outbreaks in old people’s and nursing homes rose again in the week up to February 13, as the weekly report shows. The number of active outbreaks in old people’s and nursing homes has risen to 414 (previous week: 373). 5,226 cases were reported as a result of these outbreaks. In medical treatment facilities, the number of active outbreaks remained “stable, but at a high level”. (18.02.2022)