Hopes rise in Germany as Covid figures show steady decline


German health authorities are reporting a steady decline in the number of infections caused by the Covid, in an apparent indication that the country’s vaccination campaign is taking effect.

On Wednesday, the official disease control body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), reported 18,034 new infections over the past 24 hours, down 19 per cent on the figure a week ago. The figure for deaths was 285, down from 312 a week ago, DPA reported.

The number of infections per 100,000 residents over the past seven days – a key indicator when it comes to the level of restrictions being imposed – has fallen to 132.8, down from 160.6 a week ago. Infection rates have declined even faster in a number of northern states.

“Since we put the emergency brake into effect, we are now seeing a clear reversal,” German chancellery chief Helge Braun told parliament, in reference to federal measures which took some lockdown decisions out of regional states’ hands.

“It really has been an extremely rapid retreat regarding the infection figures, which also gives us hope that the health service is reducing the risk of being overloaded.”

The numbers of coronavirus patients in hospital intensive care units, which tend to lag behind the infection numbers, have stabilized with the figure now at 4,955.

“The rise in the number of patients requiring intensive care appears to have halted at the moment,” the RKI said.

The institute also put the key reproduction rate, or R-value, at below the critical value of one for the past week. The current figure of 0.82 suggests that 100 infected people currently infect 82 others.

On Thursday, the German parliament is due to debate the planned relaxation of restrictions for fully vaccinated and recovered people. The measure is expected to pass.

However, Braun said the issue of fairness would need to be monitored given certain sections of society cannot be vaccinated.

“We should make a clear policy in the coming weeks and reduce the infection figures to such an extent that there is no longer a great risk of infection for both children and pregnant women (who cannot be vaccinated,” he said.

Figures show 29.5 per cent of people in Germany have received at least one vaccination.

The government has warned citizens not to obtain fake vaccination cards.

Such actions will not be viewed as a trivial offence, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.