Berlin (dpa) – At the start of even tighter corona restrictions across Germany, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn called on all citizens to largely refrain from contacts.
“There is little point in closing shops, schools and public life if there are numerous private gatherings taking place simultaneously,” the CDU politician said on ZDF Monday. For vaccinations, mainly in nursing homes, a second vaccine will be distributed to the federal states next Tuesday: the drug from the American manufacturer Moderna. In order to intensify the search for new virus variants, laboratories will have to report centrally the results of genetic analyzes in the future against payment.
In order to reduce the high number of infections, stricter rules have been in force in all states since Monday. This includes stricter contact restrictions: your own household should only meet one other person. In neighborhoods with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, you may not move further than 15 kilometers from your home without good reason. However, there are regionally different approaches to the implementation of this decision by the federal and state governments.
Spahn said, “The more uniform we have the rules, the easier it is for citizens to understand them.” Restrictions on private meetings meant even more hardships. However, this is currently the area where the virus is mainly transmitted. Large parts of the country have been closed, but there are still large numbers of infections. Health authorities reported 12,497 new cases within one day, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced Monday. In addition, 343 new deaths were recorded. The figures are generally lower on Mondays, also because less testing is done on weekends.
Nationally, the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days was 167 – but there are large regional differences. Saxony has the highest number of cases with 360 and Thuringia with 316. Bremen had the lowest number with 91. The federal and state governments aim for a level below 50 nationwide.
After criticism of a slow start, vaccinations should continue. The Moderna vaccine is due to be delivered to the federal states on Tuesday. Then vaccinations with this preparation could also start, Spahn said on ZDF. Due to the still limited quantities, there will be no choice between this drug and the vaccine from the manufacturer Biontech / Pfizer. Nearly two million cans of Moderna are expected for Germany in the first quarter, with a total of 50 million cans in the course of the year. Moderna confirmed on Monday the start of deliveries in the EU, Norway and Iceland. All deliveries were made from the central warehouse in Europe to pre-agreed central delivery points in the United States.
Spahn again argued that the elderly can be vaccinated first. This takes more time in nursing homes – this makes it slightly slower than is possible in regional vaccination centers. The Moderna vaccine is easier to use than the Biontech and Pfizer product, which must be refrigerated to minus 70 degrees. The number of reported vaccinations continued to increase. According to the RKI, 613,347 people have received an injection since the start at the end of December. Most vaccinations per 1000 inhabitants were registered for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (15.6), the fewest for Saxony (4.9).
Studies to identify coronavirus types need to be intensified. In the future, laboratories should report the results of the so-called sequencing to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), as stipulated by a draft regulation from the Ministry of Health. In such analyzes, the genome of the pathogen is deciphered and can then be compared with databases. The laboratories receive a fee for this, which is paid from the federal budget. Federal and state governments had decided to systematically determine virus types to better detect mutations “with potential traits that could exacerbate the pandemic.” For Europe, a variant proven in Great Britain is particularly relevant, which is probably easier to transfer.
Federal data protection officer Ulrich Kelber rejects monitoring of the 15-kilometer rule in Corona hotspots using cell phone monitoring. “GPS data cannot even distinguish between the underground car park and the fourth floor of a house,” he told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Tuesday). Even a request for a radio cell does not reliably indicate which street you were on. “So what’s that supposed to be?”
The new election of the Thuringian state parliament, scheduled for April 25, is on the verge of the corona pandemic. Given the high number of infections, the group of the Greens spoke out in favor of considering postponement. Matthias Hey, leader of the SPD, was also skeptical that the deadline could be met.