The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, has again emphasized that, in his opinion, the lockdown is of central importance in the fight against the rising corona numbers. “We cannot stop this increase unless with a new lockdown for the country,” said Wieler on Wednesday evening in an online event at the German embassy in Washington. Other “tools” to contain the third wave are currently not available.
The RKI assumes that around 80 percent of the population would have to be immune to the virus in order to stop a new wave. “Until that is achieved, we will not be sure,” said Wieler. Until the vaccination campaign has progressed that far, the known precautionary measures such as wearing masks and limiting contacts would have to be followed.
German Medical Association President Klaus Reinhardt, on the other hand, called for more options than lockdown to be considered when fighting the corona pandemic. “The month-long yo-yo permanent lockdown wears people down. It must not be our only answer to the third wave of corona,” Reinhardt told the editorial network in Germany. “There are promising approaches that even partially enable steps to return to normal social life.”
Cities like Tübingen or Rostock showed how it was done, said Reinhardt. “They combine free rapid tests with local relaxation.” Regarding the associated widespread use of rapid tests, he said: “Together with a rapid vaccination coverage of the population – and for this we urgently need more vaccine and more effective digital contact tracking – that would be a real alternative to the back and forth of the past months.”
RKI registers 22 657 new corona infections and 228 new deaths
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 22,657 new infections on Thursday. That is 5,153 cases more than a week ago. The seven-day incidence increases to 113.3, the previous day the value was 108.1. 228 other people have died in connection with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours. This increases the number of reported deaths to 75,440. In total, more than 2.71 million people in Germany have tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
According to the RKI management report on Wednesday evening, the nationwide seven-day R-value was 1.00 (previous day 1.04). This means that 100 infected people theoretically infect 100 more people. The value represents the occurrence of the infection 8 to 16 days ago. If it is below 1 for a longer period of time, the infection process subsides; if it is consistently higher, the number of cases increases.
Federal government is examining the prevention of vacation trips abroad
The federal government is checking whether trips to popular holiday areas abroad can be temporarily prevented due to the corona pandemic. There is a corresponding test order, said the deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer on Wednesday in Berlin. “This is now being checked by the responsible departments,” said Demmer.
In the past few days there had been a dispute that international flights for vacationers should not be canceled, but vacation in their own country should not be possible. The starting point was that Mallorca was no longer considered a risk area. The federal government had lifted the travel warning due to the sharp decrease in the number of infections. This also eliminated the quarantine for returnees. This has led to a booking boom, but also to heated discussions about whether you are risking a new source of infection.
At the federal-state meeting on Monday, however, it was decided that in future a test requirement should be introduced for all air passengers entering Germany. The test order now goes beyond that. Demmer did not give details of the test. A spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office said, however, that a worldwide travel warning like the one at the beginning of the pandemic last spring has not yet been planned.
Report: Saarland wants to loosen massively as a model region after Easter
After a month-long lockdown, Saarland will restart large parts of public life after Easter. The news channel N-tv reported on Wednesday evening. From April 6th, cinemas, fitness studios and outdoor restaurants on the Saar will open again. The condition for guests and users are negative corona rapid tests, which must not be older than 24 hours. The state government did not want to confirm the plans in the evening and referred to the press conference the next day with Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) and Economics Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD).
The contact restrictions will also be relaxed: According to N-tv information in Saarland, ten people from several households will be allowed to meet again. For this step out of the lockdown, the Saarland is to be declared a nationwide model region.
Hans had already indicated the move on Wednesday. “More is possible with negative tests,” he said. One can no longer only “proceed with a lockdown policy against the pandemic”, but must rely on tests and follow-up in order to give citizens more freedom again. In a nationwide comparison, Saarland currently has a low seven-day incidence of just under 71. In addition, the vaccination rate for initial vaccinations is high.
At the latest Corona summit, the federal and state governments decided, among other things, that “temporary model projects should be possible” in the federal states and individual regions – “with strict protective measures and a test concept – in order to open up individual areas of public life”. In the meantime, a number of cities and regions have declared their wish to become model regions for opening strategies.
Merkel does not want to ask a question of confidence
Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the opposition’s demand to put the vote of confidence in the Bundestag. “That is not necessary. I will not do that,” said the CDU politician in an ARD focal point. Today she asked the people’s forgiveness for a mistake. “I think that is the right thing to do. Otherwise, I have the support of the entire federal government and, to that extent, also the parliament.” The FDP, AfD and the Left suggested to Merkel on Tuesday to ask the vote of confidence after the Easter rest period was withdrawn and thus to check whether she still had a majority for her course in the Bundestag.
Report: GPs should initially only vaccinate with Biontech substances
The corona vaccination campaign in general practitioners’ practices will probably start a day later than planned. The start was postponed from April 6th to April 7th due to the complicated logistics during Easter, reports the DOES. Until April 25th, only the vaccine from Biontech / Pfizer will be administered, not that from Moderna or Astra Zeneca, the paper continues, citing the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and the Federal Ministry of Health. The sources did not give reasons for these restrictions.
According to its own statements, the newspaper received no comments from Astra Zeneca, not even on the question of why the company – unlike Biontech and Moderna – is not represented in the ministry’s so-called “High Level Working Group on Vaccination in Medical Practices”.
The restriction is surprising, because Astra Zeneca’s active ingredient is abundant and easier to transport, store and administer than the other two vaccines. According to information from, Moderna does not initially come to the practice either DOES because the mRNA vaccine could become unstable and thus ineffective during transport. Moderna is therefore considering setting up its own supply chain with refrigerated trucks from the Bofrost company.
Merkel explains corona policy in the Bundestag
After massive criticism, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) decided to stop the federal-state decision on the so-called Easter rest. In the Bundestag, the Chancellor answered questions from MPs on the subject. At the beginning, Merkel repeated the statement that she had previously presented to the press.
“This mistake is solely my fault. Because in the end I have the ultimate responsibility for everything, it is qua office,” said the Chancellor. Every mistake must be named and corrected as such, stressed Merkel and received the applause of the MPs for it. We apologize for this, “that the whole process caused additional uncertainty”. In response to inquiries and requests, Merkel made it clear that she did not want to ask the vote of confidence in the Bundestag.
The Chancellor had previously announced her decision to the Prime Minister in a conference scheduled at short notice. On Tuesday night, the federal and state governments decided, among other things, to tighten the Easter lockdown from April 1st to 5th in order to shut down public, private and economic life more strongly. Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday should be declared as rest days. However, there was massive criticism of this, and there was also great confusion about the practical implementation.
In the Bundestag, the Chancellor declared that she was certain: “We will defeat the virus together.” The road is hard and rocky, “but the virus will lose its horror”.
The Chancellor said of the mask affair in the Union parliamentary group that “things have happened that are to be condemned”. In principle, however, she defended the federal government’s mask procurement policy in the first wave of pandemics. She “expressly” supports the new transparency rules that the group is giving itself. In principle, she spoke out against banning MPs from outside employment, because “a diverse parliament” has its advantages.
When asked whether the ministerial presidents’ round was still the right place for individual decisions in the Corona crisis, Merkel stuck to the decision-making with the country leaders. The round is necessary. “I think there have already been a lot of very, very good decisions with the prime ministers,” said Merkel. It does not exclude the involvement of Parliament. It was also agreed with the Prime Minister to discuss an improvement in the way of working. There is a tension between the federal government and the states. “I have to endure this tension.”
Merkel also emphasized the respective responsibilities of the federal and state governments in crisis management. “Every level in democracy has its responsibility.” The federal government can support a lot, but not do everything. “The distribution of self-tests in schools is really not one of the tasks that a federal government can do,” said the Chancellor, referring to the states and municipalities.