The German Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, was convinced that Germany can still prevent a further worsening of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) by the highly contagious variant Ómicron, even without arranging a new confinement.
“I’m sure of it,” Lauterbach said a day after the federal government and the 16 regional executives agreed on restrictions on public and private life, mainly for after the Christmas party.
The president of the Instituto Robert Koch (RKI, for its acronym in German), Lothar Wieler, warned that the health system could be overloaded if the omicron wave could not be stopped.
According to Lauterbach, the measures agreed on Tuesday will further accelerate the decline in infection cases. “We will see a further decline in cases, and we will do the booster campaign during this time,” Lauterbach said.
We are trying to avoid a particularly serious omicron wave ”.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the heads of the 16 German Länder resolved to limit private meetings to a maximum of ten people from 28 December at the latest. They also agreed to close clubs and discos and banned the public from attending large events such as football matches.
Several states announced that they will apply the contact restrictions before December 28.
In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburgor come into effect on Christmas Eve.
Before the meeting, the RKI demanded more far-reaching measures such as restricting contacts as much as possible. At the same time, the new expert council convened by the German government warned that there was a danger of an “explosive spread” of omicron.
A new meeting of Scholz with the regional chiefs is scheduled for January 7.
Wieler said the extent of omicron diffusion in Germany today is unclear. So far, about 540 cases of this variant and about 1,850 suspected cases have been reported to the RKI, he specified and clarified that these data are mostly one or two weeks old.
“The trend is very clear: With a doubling time of about three days, the new variant could already be responsible for most of the cases of infection in our country in the next one, two, at most three weeks.”
Lauterbach also aims to push booster shots into high gear during parties.
He said that to the 30 million booster shots scheduled for the end of the year since mid-November, another 30 million will be added by the end of January.
However, the critics did not wait. The leader of the Christian Democratic parliamentary group, Ralph Brinkhaus, said he would have liked more measures to be taken and that it was incomprehensible that they took effect after Christmas.
Also for the German virologist Martin striker, the restrictions come too late.
“With the rate of duplication that omicron is showing, every day is important,” he told Deutschlandfunk broadcaster.
The omicron variant also reached the German Parliament. Two deputies with a COVID-19 infection that was not recognized at the time, of the Delta and Omicron variants, participated last Wednesday in the constitutive meeting of the Defense Commission, the commission reported.