Germany is facing a new wave of covid-19, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced Wednesday, urging the most vulnerable people to get a fourth dose of vaccine.
“The wave announced for the summer has unfortunately become a reality,” Lauterbach told the daily Rheinische Post. “That means less slacking off over the next few weeks.”
In Germany, people are spending the summer with COVID-19 out of sight, if not out of mind. With most restrictions lifted, they are traveling and filling bars, restaurants and clubs. Festivals and other events are picking up and many are trying to catch up.
In fact, the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations is higher today than at the same time in the last two years, but Germany’s third pandemic summer seems to be the most normal.
Like other countries, Germany is experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases caused by the BA.5 sub-variant, which the World Health Organization (WHO) currently classifies as a “variant of concern.”
In the space of 24 hours, 92,344 new cases were recorded, according to figures from the Robert Koch Institute of Health Surveillance published Wednesday. The seven-day incidence of the virus is 472.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany.
The number of people hospitalized in intensive care is also rising, although it remains significantly lower than at the beginning of the year. “Because the current variant of the virus is very easily transmitted and almost all precautionary measures have expired, the arrival of summer has less effect this year” in reducing the circulation of covid-19, the health minister explained.
Lauterbach recommended that elderly or sick people get a booster dose without delay. “This does not completely protect against infection, but it does prevent severe forms of the disease,” he said. The minister also advised wearing a mask indoors.
Germany eased its restrictions starting in March, allowing unvaccinated people to return to restaurants and businesses and ending the requirement to telecommute. Masks are no longer required to be worn in schools, offices and shops, but remain mandatory on public transportation.