According to Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, Germany is facing the next wave of corona. The SPD politician called for precautionary measures and vaccinations in Berlin on Friday, but was also confident about the coming months. "We are clearly at the beginning of an autumn and winter wave," said Lauterbach. At the same time, he assured: "We will have the wave under control". Germany is better prepared than last autumn.
The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, made a similar statement at the joint press conference with the Minister of Health. He called for vigilance and mindfulness, but also said he was "not really worried".
Especially many infections at the moment
According to Wieler, there is currently a particularly strong increase in acute respiratory diseases compared to other years. There are a number of reasons for this. "There are actually indications that it can also be a catch-up effect," said Wieler. Protection has been so effective over the past two years that it is possible that a certain immunity gap has arisen. However, he pointed out that the corona protection measures had saved lives.
According to him, most infections are currently caused by cold viruses, with Corona coming in second place before other viruses such as the flu. The nationwide number of new corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days was given by the RKI on Friday morning at 466, a significant increase compared to the previous day (409.9) and the previous week (294.7). Since it is unclear how many people can still be tested at all, a high number of unreported cases is assumed. Only positive PCR tests count in the statistics.
"Germany not smarter, but more cautious"
Lauterbach appealed to the federal states to keep a close eye on developments in order to find the right time for countermeasures. The federal states can decide that on their own: On October 1st - i.e. this Saturday - new regulations will come into force, according to which the federal states could, for example, again order masks to be worn indoors.
The Minister of Health describes the corona rules in this country as particularly strict in a European comparison. "Germany is not smarter, but more cautious," he said when asked. Measured by the number of people who have died from Covid, the pandemic has so far come through relatively well. The aim is to prevent the healthcare system and critical infrastructure from being overloaded. "We want to ensure that the Corona crisis does not worsen the gas crisis by having mass absences at the workplace."
Compulsory isolation and "good news"
In order to prevent such failures, some federal states had also called for the five-day obligation to isolate Corona to be lifted and to proceed according to the motto “if you are ill, stay at home”. However, Lauterbach does not want to shake the isolation obligation. "I don't see any sense in fueling the infection process now. We're already seeing a sharp increase in the number of cases."
The SPD politician, who was often criticized as a corona admonisher and warner and also insulted and threatened by opponents, struck a more optimistic tone than usual on Friday with a view to autumn and winter: "I don't like to warn, I announce like good news, and the good news is here, we're better prepared than last fall." You have it under control. Corona will not come to the fore.
The minister again campaigned for a fourth vaccination specifically for people over 60. This reduced mortality by another 90 percent, he said, citing data from the American health authority CDC. "It makes a huge difference for older people if you have been vaccinated three times or if you have been vaccinated four times."
Corona situation in clinics stable
An important indicator for assessing the situation is the number of severe corona cases. According to the current RKI weekly report, “the number of cases treated in hospital with a severe acute respiratory infection and Covid 19 diagnosis has stabilized in recent weeks”.
It remains the case that many of the infections were not difficult, said Hajo Zeeb from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology of the German Press Agency. The virologist Hendrik Streeck referred to hundreds of thousands of corona infections this summer, "with an unreported number where we were probably in the millions". Nevertheless, this was not felt to the same extent in the hospitals.
Zeeb expects hospital treatments to increase again and the number of deaths to increase, “which will primarily affect certain groups”. He "rather not" sees an overload of the health system. The epidemiologist called the current sharp increase in corona numbers "threatening, but not comparable to times when we as a population were still largely unprotected."
The majority of citizens see no danger for themselves
According to the “ZDF Politbarometer”, the number of citizens who see their health at risk from Corona is leveling off at a low level. Currently, 30 percent fear this, 59 percent see no danger for themselves. "People are worried about whether they can fill their fridge and whether they will be warm in winter. After two and a half years, we can deal with Corona well," said Streeck, referring to medication, high immunity in the population and adapted vaccines for high risk groups. "Corona should no longer contribute to people's concerns."