Health Minister Spahn and Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), informed about the status of the corona situation in Germany at the federal press conference. The incidence figures would stagnate or rise, virus variants would spread, said Spahn. He described the fact that the Prime Minister’s Conference decided to relax it as a struggle to find the right balance. The opening possibilities went to the limit of what is justifiable from the point of view of health protection. After months of lockdown, Spahn said: “Not daring any opening steps was hardly justifiable either.” But he thinks the decided brake is important. “We open, but prudently.”
This is also related to the rapid tests, which will be free of charge for all citizens once a week from Monday. The capacities for this are available. Manufacturers have assured that millions of tests are in stock. Manufacturers have assured that enough self-rapid tests will also be available from next week. From April onwards, the doctor’s surgeries will be included in the vaccinations as a matter of routine. The vaccine should be distributed by the suppliers to the resident doctors via the pharmacies.
He does not expect any problems with the provision of tests, said Spahn. “We are world champions in logistics,” said the CDU politician. “That will work out quickly.” Incidentally, the federal government has currently secured at least 50 million rapid tests per month, ten million would be accessed.
RKI boss Wieler said that so far around five percent of citizens in Germany had received an initial vaccination, and almost three percent had received both vaccinations. The incidences fell significantly, particularly among those over the age of 80. However, the number of intensive care patients and deaths is only slowly falling. According to Wieler, however, the incidences have been rising again in the under-80s for about two weeks. These are “signals of a trend reversal,” warned Wieler.
About the virus mutation, which was first discovered in Great Britain, the RKI boss said: “It is foreseeable that B117 will soon be the predominant variant in Germany”. Then it will be even more difficult to keep the virus in check. The variant is more contagious and deadly in all age groups. It has now been discovered in more than 40 percent of positive tests in Germany. The variant first discovered in South Africa was discovered in about one percent. Wieler urged people: “Please get vaccinated. The vaccines are approved, they are safe and effective.”
The health authorities in Germany reported 10 580 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 264 additional deaths were recorded within 24 hours. That comes from the numbers of the RKI from Friday. Exactly one week ago, the RKI had recorded 9997 new infections and 394 new deaths within one day. The data reflect the status of the RKI dashboard at 5.20 a.m., changes or additions are possible at a later date.
According to the RKI, the seven-day incidence nationwide on Friday morning was 65.4 – and thus slightly higher than the previous day (64.7). According to the RKI management report on Thursday, the nationwide seven-day R-value was 0.99 (previous day 0.93). This means that 100 infected people theoretically infect 99 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.
Steinmeier: More than 71,000 deaths in Germany are a “disturbing dimension”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has again spoken out in favor of a public commemoration of the people who died during the corona pandemic. He thinks it is very important “that we pause to say goodbye together in dignity to those who have died during the pandemic,” Steinmeier said on Friday at a meeting with bereaved in Berlin. This also applies to those who did not fall victim to the virus, but died just as lonely. Steinmeier pointed out that on April 18 a memorial ceremony with the state leadership and bereaved families should take place in Berlin.
He remembered the more than 71,000 people in Germany who have died from or with the corona virus so far. That is a “shocking, disturbing dimension” https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/. “Behind every single number there is a fate, there is a person who has passed away,” he emphasized Federal President. “Behind this is endless sadness and endless pain and yes, sometimes bitterness.”
“There is hope that we will defeat the pandemic – thanks to the vaccines that are now available to us,” Steinmeier said. But hundreds of people still die from Covid-19 infection every day. So far, the bereaved have mostly mourned silently and individually. “We all lack a form of common commemoration and farewell. Because in these dark times we felt how vulnerable we are as people and how much we depend on each other as a community,” said the Federal President.
All children should be back to school in March
Despite the downward trend in the number of Covid 19 patients, the number of free beds in intensive care units in Germany has remained roughly constant since the beginning of the year. Operations that had been postponed are currently being carried out again or are even being increasingly carried out, said a spokeswoman for the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) of the German Press Agency. “Correspondingly, after major heart operations or severe tumor resections, larger numbers are currently back in intensive care units.”
In any case, the treatment of the large number of Covid-19 patients at the end of December and beginning of January was only possible because other patients were transferred to other wards earlier than usual. The bed occupancy rate in the intensive care units is “still very stable,” said the spokeswoman. Around 3700 free intensive care beds are shown in the Divi intensive care register (as of Thursday). Around 2,800 Covid-19 cases are still being treated. That is less than half as much as at the beginning of the year, but only slightly less than during the peak of the first wave in spring 2020.
From March onwards, all pupils should go back to school
The President of the Conference of Ministers of Education, Britta Ernst, announced that all students in Germany should go back to school in March. “Even if we have a changed situation due to the virus mutation, we cannot wait several more weeks. The school closings have too high a social price for that,” said the SPD politician to the editorial network Germany.
According to Ernst, some federal states with particularly low incidence values would probably even opt for face-to-face teaching. The aim is to provide additional rapid tests. “We want to do that for the teachers this month and then as quickly as possible for the students too,” said the politician.
Vaccination Commission now recommends Astra-Zeneca vaccine for older people too
The Astra Zeneca corona vaccine will soon be able to vaccinate older people in Germany. The Standing Vaccination Commission of the Robert Koch Institute now recommends the vaccine for people who are 65 years of age or older.
So far, the vaccine has only been approved in Germany for people between 18 and 64 years of age, although the European Medicines Agency, for example, also considers it suitable for older age groups. This was justified with insufficient data on the effects in the elderly. According to Health Minister Spahn, new study data have also shown that the vaccine is even more effective if the interval between the first and second vaccination is twelve weeks. The Stiko recommend that too. “We will implement both recommendations in the regulation very soon,” explains Spahn.
The head of the commission, Thomas Mertens, had already announced a “new, updated recommendation” last week. According to study results from Great Britain, where there is already significantly more vaccination with Astra Zeneca, the vaccine is also highly effective in the elderly population.
It is expected that after the recommendation of the Stiko, the Corona vaccination ordinance of the Ministry of Health will be changed promptly and that the immunizations of older people with Astra Zeneca can start very soon.
The federal and state governments agree: Gradual openings depending on the incidence
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Ministers of the federal states discussed how to proceed in the corona crisis on Wednesday. The lockdown to fight the corona pandemic in Germany is basically extended until March 28, but with many opening options depending on the infection situation.
Bookstores, florists and garden centers can do so if they comply with hygiene requirements from March 8th reopen nationwide. Also on this date it should be stable or falling Incidences between 50 and 100 be able to go shopping again by booking appointments in retail outlets. A maximum of one customer per 40 square meters applies here. Visits to museums, galleries, zoos and botanical gardens that have been booked individually will also be possible again. At Incidents under 50 open the aforementioned facilities. At this point, retail can also open.
14 days later, on March 22, the next opening step follows if the incidences are stable. At Incidences between 50 and 100 Theaters, concert halls, opera houses and cinemas can be visited on submission of a daily quick test or self-test. Sport is allowed indoors without contact and outdoors with contact. If you book an appointment, you can also visit the outdoor dining area. At Incidence values below 50 the aforementioned options are also possible without tests.
Another 14 days later, So at the earliest on April 5th In the higher incidence ranges, contact-free indoor sports and outdoor contact sports are allowed without a test. With incidences below 50, outdoor leisure events with up to 50 participants are possible.
Important elements for further openings should be vaccination and testing. It was agreed that at the end of March / beginning of April the general practitioners and specialist practices would be fully involved in the vaccination campaign in order to accelerate it. Free corona rapid tests for all citizens are expected to be possible from next week. From then on, the federal government will take over the costs. At least one rapid test should be possible per week, which trained staff will do in test centers or medical practices, for example.