Wednesday 12/8/21

German coronavirus case count passes 5-million mark

The seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people hit 289.0, marking yet another record
08 November 2021, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Biberach an der Riss: A medical professional fills a Coronavirus vaccine dose at the Vaccination Center at City Hall. Photo: Stefan Puchner/dpa.
A medical professional fills a Coronavirus vaccine dose. Photo: Stefan Puchner/dpa.

The cumulative case count of coronavirus infections in Germany has now passed the 5-million mark, according to official figures.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases reported 33,498 new cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 5,021,469 since the pandemic first arrived in Germany. Additionally, the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people hit 289.0, marking yet another record.

So far, 97,672 have died after catching the virus in Germany.

Political and health officials are warning Germans that they could be facing harsh weeks ahead in light of the explosion of new cases. However, political leaders are not meeting until Thursday to hammer out how they will update their approach to the disease.

Efforts to find solutions have been delayed as three German political parties - the Social Democrats, the Greens and the pro-business FDP - seek to hammer out a coalition deal in the wake of September elections. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government are currently in office in a caretaker capacity.

But the Labour Ministry has gone ahead with plans to once again force many employers to offer home office options for their workers.

A draft document says employers should offer a work-from-home option unless there is a "service-critical" reason for not doing so. Likewise, employees should take up the offer unless they have a specific reason not to do so. A previous home office regulation expired at the end of June.

There hasn't been a final decision on the issue, however, between the three parties negotiating to form the next German government.

"I have never been as worried during this pandemic as I am now," Susanne Johna, head of the Marburger Bund doctors' association, told the Funke group of newspapers.

During the first 18 months of the global pandemic, Germany was often praised as one of the countries that had controlled the spread of the coronavirus particularly well.

Hospitals overloaded

But now, hospitals are warning that they are running out of capacity and space to help patients. Many procedures are being delayed due to the outbreak.

According to the news weekly Spiegel, some 12,000 soldiers are to be deployed to struggling hospitals and local health authorities in the run up to Christmas.

"We are really running out of time at the moment," intensive care physician Christian Karagiannidis told Berlin's RBB radio.

The "vast majority" of Covid patients in intensive care patients are unvaccinated, he said.

Karagiannidis, who is head of the intensive care registry at the DIVI medical association, said the situation in the states of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony and Thuringia caused him "greatest concern."

On Sunday, the number of intensive care patients with Covid-19 rose to more than 3,000, about 1,000 more than two weeks ago.

According to the RKI, 67.5% of the German population is fully vaccinated, while 70% have received their first shot.

In response to the worsening outlook, the government reintroduced free rapid testing for citizens from Saturday.