| 7 February 2023, Tuesday |

Germany extends COVID curbs as infections threaten infrastructure

Germany extended its existing pandemic precautions on Monday, as the government-appointed experts panel warned that the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variety might strain Europe’s largest economy’s essential infrastructure.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that he had reached an agreement with the presidents of the federal states to tighten regulations such as restricting private meetings to 10 people and demanding confirmation of booster vaccination or a negative test at eateries.

“Now it’s time to continue on track,” Scholz remarked at a meeting on Monday.

Scholz noted that if illness levels rise or fall dramatically, the government would discuss loosening or strengthening the regulations.

Germany on Monday reported 63,393 new COVID-19 cases, an 86% jump from a week ago, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said earlier this month he expected the infection wave to peak in mid-February.

Scholz and the heads of states also agreed to prioritise the use of COVID-19 PCR testing and to increase testing capacity to cope with rising infections. However, subsidized PCR tests will be only applied for vulnerable groups and staff in clinics and nursing homes.

In Berlin, where the rate of cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 7 days hit 1,465 – second-highest in Germany – compulsory school attendance will be suspended until the end of February, to accommodate parents worried about sending their children to classrooms amid rising infections, Mayor Franziska Giffey said.

The next meeting with states’ leaders to discuss possible coronavirus measures is scheduled to take place on Feb. 16, the chancellor said.

  • Reuters