The measures against the spread of the Corona virus in Germany have just been tightened, and the infection figures are slowly falling
No sooner have the restrictions in the fight against the Corona pandemic been extended and tightened than the discussion about an end to the lockdown begins.
The vice chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Georg Nüßlein, is calling for a definitive end to the existing measures once the time limit ends on Feb. 14. “Because of the massive impact, it is not responsible to impose a nationwide lockdown until the incidence number falls below 50 or below 35,” the CSU politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper (Saturday). “If something else doesn’t happen in the next few weeks that we can’t foresee now, for example a massive spread of mutated viruses, then we’ll have to take a different path from the current one by mid-February at the latest.”
Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) also wants to implement relaxations after Feb. 14, if it is responsible, he told the newspaper Welt – initially in schools and barbershops. “In March, we can then talk about retail. And after Easter also about the gastronomy.”
Opening schools has been a hotly contested issue since the first wave. Union faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus warned against opening them too quickly. “We are all doing ourselves no favors by allowing face-to-face teaching too soon again. Health comes first,” he told the “Passauer Neue Presse” (Saturday). The new virus mutations made him “very worried.”
The new CDU leader Armin Laschet dampened hopes for a long-term corona concept. “A long-term concept is difficult, because it is hard to predict the concrete development of the pandemic, especially with the highly contagious new mutation,” the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (Saturday). “Currently, the incidence is indeed falling. But the new mutated virus is unpredictable.”
Doctors’ president Klaus Reinhardt – actually a supporter of the lockdown – nevertheless demanded that politicians provide perspectives for the population. “It is understandable that people are tired after ten months of pandemic and find the Corona protection measures burdensome,” the president of the German Medical Association told the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday). The perspectives also include clear communication on vaccination capacities, he added.
In this regard, German Health Minister Jens Spahn expressed confidence that Germany would receive “at least three million vaccine doses” from vaccine manufacturer Astrazeneca, despite the latter’s delivery problems in February. That is “unfortunately less than was expected,” the CDU politician told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. The prerequisite is that the vaccine is approved in the EU as expected at the end of January.
New findings from Great Britain, according to which the virus mutation could not only be more contagious, but also more deadly, will be “evaluated and see what conclusions we draw from this,” Spahn said on ARD’s “Tagesthemen” on Friday evening. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said there were “some indications” that the variant first discovered in southern England might be more deadly than the one that has prevailed so far. Experts, however, advised caution. Whether the new variant is deadlier, and if so how much, is still very uncertain, warned the government’s scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.
Because of the mutations of the virus, German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) reserves the right to extend home office requirements for employers if necessary. “We look in time, whether an extension beyond March 15 is necessary,” he told the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday).
The federal government is setting a good example on the subject of home office. In many federal ministries in Berlin, there are hardly any civil servants or employees to be found in the buildings – the home office quota is up to 85 percent, according to a survey by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. For example, in the Environment Ministry of Svenja Schulze (SPD) is currently “a maximum presence reduction”, as a spokesman said. Of the 1187 employees, more than 80 percent could work from home. Before the pandemic, it was a maximum of 15 percent. Franziska Giffey’s (SPD) family ministry said that currently, less than 15 percent of the 911 employees were present in the offices on average during the day.
German health departments reported 16,417 new Corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 879 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours, the RKI announced Saturday morning. Exactly one week ago, the RKI had recorded 18 678 new infections and 980 new deaths within 24 hours.
The peak of 1244 new deaths had been reached on January 14. The highest number of new infections registered within 24 hours, 33,777, was reported on December 18, but included 3,500 subsequent reports.
The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants (seven-day incidence) was 112.6 on Saturday morning, according to the RKI. Its previous peak had been reached on December 22 with 197.6.