Debate on corona strategy: tougher measures possible | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – The number of corona infections in Germany remains at a high level, fueling the discussion about the right strategy to fight pandemics.

For example, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) campaigned on Friday for tighter restrictions in particularly affected regions: “Where there are many infections in Germany, I believe additional restrictive measures to reduce contact are absolutely necessary,” he said in the report. ZDF “Tomorrow Magazine”.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) previously registered 23,449 new corona infections across the country within 24 hours – over 600 more than a week ago. 432 deaths within one day represent the third highest level since the start of the pandemic. The number of corona patients in German intensive care units exceeded the 4,000 threshold for the first time on Friday.

Against this background, doubts are growing about the planned relaxation of contact restrictions for Christmas. Last week, the federal and state governments agreed to attend family gatherings from Dec. 23 to Jan. 1, with ten people plus children up to 14 years old. However, some federal states have already announced that they will not wish to make use of this relaxation or at least that they will shorten the period for it.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert made it clear that the federal government does not want to shake up the agreement. However, the special rules for the holidays are not an invitation to exhaust the upper limits completely. Everyone should ask, “How do we prevent a family celebration, a Christmas celebration from becoming a source of infection?”

Virologist Alexander Kekulé does not consider the recently decided extension of the partial lockdown meaningful. Measures had the strongest effect when just decided, Kekulé said in the MDR-Aktuell podcast. By maintaining the same measures, one usually does not get stronger brakes. Instead of an extension until January 10, Kekulé had had two options: either wait until shortly after New Year’s Eve or change it immediately. “But then you have to take stricter measures now and not wait until January 11th.”

Should the number of infections continue to rise, another corona summit by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the prime minister cannot be ruled out this year. Seibert pointed out that the next steps shouldn’t really be discussed until January 4, but also stressed, “In principle, it is always possible, of course, to convene federal state conferences at short notice.”

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s admission that it should halve the delivery target of the corona vaccine this year caused a sensation. Spahn said that Germany too can therefore expect a lower number of vaccine doses in the first weeks. “At the same time – from today – if the approval is given, the first vaccinations can be given in Germany around the turn of the year,” stressed the Minister of Health.

A spokesperson for the ministry also assured that no one would have to pay for a corona vaccination: “The vaccination is free, regardless of whether or how someone is insured.” Seibert reiterated that the vaccination would be voluntary. You hope to convince many people. However, there are no plans for a financial stimulus.

To prevent residents of nursing homes from becoming lonely despite contact restrictions, there is a new guide for the relevant facilities. Federal government nurse Andreas Westerfellhaus presented the eleven-page “handout”, which includes rapid tests, protective masks and exceptions. For home residents, personal contact with family members is an “indispensable part of their lives” and should not be questioned, says Westerfellhaus.

Austria has been using mass tests to contain the pandemic since Friday, but in Germany this is greeted with skepticism. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport states that the RKI strategy provides for targeted testing and not in the area. Mass tests have little informative value. This attitude is supported by the German Patient Protection Foundation. “Mass tests are a flash in the pan,” said Eugen Brysch, board member of the Foundation. They are useless to protect the population from infection, and at the same time “a lot of money is being burned” for this political activism.

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