Health minister expects restrictions to stay in place for whole winter

Health minister expects restrictions to stay in place for whole winter

Although there are some indications that the rate of infection in Germany is slowing, the Robert Koch Institute has emphasised that the situation is still “very serious”. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has said that the prospect of Christmas parties and celebrations looks very unlikely. 

No large gatherings this Christmas, German Health Minister says

Speaking to regional broadcaster RBB, Spahn said that he expects coronavirus restrictions to remain in place - in some shape or form - for the whole winter. Even if the current partial shutdown succeeds in bringing infection figures down by the end of November, this would not mean that “from December or January things can start again with weddings or Christmas celebrations as if nothing has happened,” the health minister said. 

Emphasising that the virus will not simply disappear overnight, Spahn stressed that the situation required patience: “That is why I think the message is important: events with more than 10 or 15 people…. I don’t see them happening this winter.”

RKI: Coronavirus curve flattening in Germany

Spahn’s comments came just as Lothar Wieler, the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) held a press conference expressing tentative optimism at the coronavirus situation in Germany. “What makes me cautiously optimistic is the fact that the number of cases is currently no longer rising so steeply,” he said. “The curve is flattening.” As of Thursday, the crucial reproduction rate had fallen below 1 to 0,89. 

However, he tempered this observation with another: although the increase is now not so sharp, the infection rate still continues to rise in almost every part of the country. Added to which, the RKI is still not entirely sure about what is causing the flattening of the curve. 

According to Wieler, it is possible that the stricter measures are beginning to take effect. However, it is equally possible that laboratory capacities in Germany have reached their limit - meaning that the number of cases cannot possibly rise any quicker. “We don’t yet know whether this is a stable development,” he said. 

Hospitals in Germany stretched to limits

Health authorities are still expecting that the number of serious illnesses will continue to rise - which emphasises the ongoing importance of keeping coronavirus restrictions in place. “Almost half of the clinics report limited availability,” Wieler said, adding that infections among staff members are beginning to push hospitals to their limits. “It is possible that patients can no longer be optimally cared for everywhere.” 

It is important to prevent the situation from worsening, the RKI boss said. Their goal is to bring the number of new infections back to a level that hospitals can cope with. Health authorities in Germany had reported 21.866 new cases within the last 24 hours on Thursday - almost 3.000 more infections than the day before. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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