| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

German COVID experts push for immediate contact limits

To combat an impending flood of illnesses caused by the Omicron version of the coronavirus, Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases urged enforcing “maximum contact restrictions” immediately on Tuesday.

The group also suggested limiting travel to only what was absolutely essential, speeding up the vaccine program, and making sure there were enough free coronavirus testing available.

Federal and state authorities were scheduled to meet later Tuesday to discuss further measures, which were expected to include new limitations even for individuals who had been vaccinated and had recovered from COVID-19, but a countrywide lockdown appeared to be off the table.

Janosch Dahmen, a health expert for junior coalition partners the Greens, told broadcaster ARD that the leaders must meet again over the holidays if further measures are needed.

He also asked people to get tested before Christmas gatherings, and to spend them with only the very closest family members.

The RKI warned that how the pandemic evolves will depend on how people act over the holidays, as well as how strongly the flu virus – which has epidemic potential – circulates this season.

The RKI reported 23,428 new infections on Tuesday, and 462 deaths, taking Germany’s total to 108,814.

The seven-day incidence rate – the number of people per 100,000 to be infected over the last week – dropped to 306.4 from 316 the previous day, continuing the trend of the last three weeks.

However, health experts have repeatedly warned that this does not point to an easing of the situation as daily death and hospital admission figures are still high.

“It doesn’t make sense to create panic in the face of falling numbers,” Bavarian premier Markus Soeder told ARD.

“But the other way around, one also has to be resolute and honest about what’s coming towards us,” he added.

  • Reuters