Berlin (dpa) – A few days before the new federal state talks on the corona pandemic, the call for more freedom is getting louder. At the same time, urgent warnings of a third wave of infections with the more dangerous virus variant are forcibly moving through Germany.
On Saturday, the number of new infections within seven days per 100,000 inhabitants rose by 1.2 to 63.8. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), this incidence continued there on Sunday. As a result of the lockdown, the incidence had decreased until mid-February and then increased with slight peaks and troughs.
The scientists blame the more contagious and probably more deadly mutation B.1.1.7, which paralyzed London in Britain for the first time, to be responsible for the growing numbers. According to the leading labs in Germany, their share of infections had already risen to 30 percent last week and scientists are likely to dominate events in the near future.
On February 10, federal and state governments extended the winter break to March 7 – with the exception of schools, daycares, and hairdressers. The next step should really only occur when there is a stable 7-day incidence of no more than 35 new infections per 100,000.
Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) announced that it could become common practice for restaurants, museums and shops to open from spring. To do this, they have to run quick tests on customers, as she said “Bild am Sonntag”. “We have to tell people what steps we want to take,” said the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig (SPD) of the German news agency in Schwerin.
Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) relies on quick responses on the ground. “Nobody benefits if we open stores and close them shortly after,” he said on Deutschlandfunk. What is needed are “very clear, precise specifications” from the federal and state governments, including a testing strategy – “a one-stop solution.”
According to the mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller (SPD), Germany will orient itself towards its capital. “The basis will be a roadmap that we have already drawn up in Berlin,” said the president of the dpa conference of prime ministers. The Berlin plan provides for tiered openings, for example for sports for children up to 12 years old, for restaurant terraces, shops or theaters. Müller said the plan also included steps when the number of infections increased again.
The RKI had already proposed a plan – for regional openings and closings. Openings should therefore appear in most districts only when the course of the infection is milder. In addition to the seven-day incidence, it should also depend on: the capacity utilization of the intensive care units, clinical cases in the elderly and the likelihood of identifying contacts.
THIRD WAVE FORECAST:
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) told “Bild am Sonntag”: “Open it, but with caution. Otherwise there is a risk of flying blindly into the third wave.” Saarbrücken’s corona forecasting expert, Thorsten Lehr, told the Dpa, “Even if the easing is moderate, it will have an impact.” He expects the virus to spread in the country, just like before Christmas in April. Because from March 7 there will probably be about 20 percent more contacts. The combination with the virus mutant causes a strong increase. Even without easing, the incidence of 100 would be reached in early April.
The medical coordinator for dealing with the pandemic in the Starnberg district, Bernhard Junge-Hülsing, told the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” that it was rash that many people are now without masks and the authorities are opening schools. “There is a high risk that we will have to lock again in two or three weeks.”
FOCUS ON SCHOOL OPENINGS:
Baden-Württemberg’s minister of education, Susanne Eisenmann (CDU), wants more openings in primary and secondary schools from 8 March, as she said in “Mannheimer Morgen”. The chairman of the professional association of pediatricians, Thomas Fischbach, told the editorial network Germany (RND) that all schools and daycare centers had to be reopened immediately because schools played no significant role in the infection process.
However, according to a study by the RKI, students do not play a major role. But there are also transmissions and outbreaks with it. Teachers have a six times higher risk than six to ten year olds of being involved in a school corona outbreak. After the lockdown light started in November, 90 percent of all school outbreaks affected up to nine people. More than 15 people were infected in five percent. Up to 55 cases there were isolated outbreaks. The transmission speed in secondary schools is significantly higher than that in primary schools.
POPULATION AND LOCAL EXPECTATIONS:
In a survey by the Insa opinion research institute for “Bild am Sonntag”, 75 percent were in favor of the stores reopening in March, 17 percent were against. In the case of restaurants, 54 percent of those surveyed want to open in March, 35 percent refuse. At hotels (45 to 37 percent), beauty salons (44 to 32 percent) and museums (42 to 35 percent), the proponents of the opening predominated. It was different in cinemas and theaters. Here are 35 for a March opening, but 46 percent are against.
With low infection rates, it was not possible to wait so long for measures to be taken everywhere, said the chairman of the German district association, Reinhard Sager, of “Welt am Sonntag”. Neighboring municipalities and states must coordinate opening steps – some “shopping tourism” is inevitable. On the other hand, city council president Burkhard Jung thinks it is too early for complete relaxation. Then they should be flanked by protective measures and tests, he told the Funke media group.