– We are in the middle of a rapidly developing pandemic, says Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which corresponds to the National Institute of Public Health in Norway.
Over the past week, Germany has registered 3,611 new infections.
Wieler believes that the Germans have become negligent, and encourages people to wear masks and respect rules for social distance and hygiene.
RKI’s index finger comes at a time when countries across Europe are struggling with new coronavirus infections, while travelers move across the continent during the summer holidays.
On Tuesday, Germany issued a travel warning for three regions in Spain – Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre – which have seen a new increase in infections.
It comes after Britain imposed a 14-day quarantine for anyone coming from Spain – a move the Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has called “unfair”.
Germany on Monday announced a program of free, mandatory coronavirus testing for travelers returning from high-risk countries.
The list currently includes Brazil, Turkey and the United States.
«Fast and uncontrolled»
At a press conference on Tuesday, RKI asked people for the first time to wear a mask outdoors if they can not maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters.
Previously, the guidance has been to wear a mask indoors in public.
Furthermore, RKI emphasizes that Germans must stop the virus from spreading again “quickly and uncontrollably” by following the measures for hygiene and social distance.
– We do not yet know if this is the beginning of a second wave, but of course it could be, says Lothar Wieler.
In total, Germany has registered 206,242 cases and 9,122 deaths.
Death rates in particular are lower than for many other European states, and Germany has gained recognition both domestically and internationally for its rapid response to the pandemic and its mass testing program.
But in recent days, the country has experienced a jump in infection. Newly registered infections increased by 633 on Tuesday, almost double Monday’s increase of 340, writes the BBC.
Over the past week, the country has reported an average of 557 new infections daily, up from about 350 in early June.
According to German The Local, the number of new infections on Sunday was down to 305, after 781 new cases on Saturday and 814 on Friday.
However, this decline is probably due to a delay in testing and reporting, which is often the case on weekends, RKI states.
German health authorities say that new coronavirus outbreaks occur in various environments, such as meat processing plants, facilities for asylum seekers and refugees, nursing homes and hospitals, as well as in connection with family or religious events.
Europe is struggling
More and more European countries are now experiencing setbacks.
In the Belgian city of Antwerp, the authorities have introduced a curfew at night for all but workers in particularly important positions, and they require everyone over the age of 12 to wear a mask in public.
In Spain, the number of new infections is still high in the northeast, although the outbreak nationally is still under control.
Nations in Southeastern Europe are hardest hit.
Romania has registered more than 1,000 new cases for the seventh day in a row. The country now has more than 47,000 infections.
Serbia, Albania and northern Macedonia are also struggling to slow down the outbreak, while Slovenia and Croatia have reported fewer infections compared to neighboring countries.
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