RKI tells people to celebrate Christmas with "closest circle" only

RKI tells people to celebrate Christmas with "closest circle" only

The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, has issued an urgent appeal for people in Germany to minimise their social contacts at Christmas, to help limit the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus

Spend Christmas with small circle of family and friends, Germany urged

Speaking together with Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach at a press conference on Thursday, Wielder urged people to exercise caution and cut down on social contact over the holidays, to ensure the festive season does not become “a celebration for the virus.” 

“We all want to spend the holidays with family and friends - yes - but we all also have to work together to ensure that Christmas does not become a kickstarter for Omicron,” he said. He urged people to “only spend this time in the smallest, closest circle of friends and family.” 

He further recommended that people do a COVID test before meeting people from at-risk groups, even if fully vaccinated. “We now have to prevent infections so that Omicron cannot spread so quickly,” he said. 

In its latest weekly report, the Robert Koch Institute urged people to restrict contracts, avoid travel, air out rooms regularly, wear masks, and self-isolate and contact a doctor if they show symptoms of coronavirus. The institute further advised people to cancel or avoid larger indoor events, like Christmas parties, or to hold them virtually. 

Germany going full speed against Omicron

So far, only a few hundred cases of Omicron have been reported in Germany, but Health Minister Lauterbach said he was keeping a close eye on the situation in the UK, where “very worrying figures” are being reported. 

Both the RKI boss and the health minister were clear about the fact that they see it as “only a matter of time” until Omicron becomes the dominant variant in Germany. “We expect the situation to worsen, and that also applies to those who have been vaccinated,” said Wieler. 

Lauterbach said that the “strategy of the federal government … is to keep Omicron [cases] as low as possible by means of a quick booster offensive”, to help prevent an overload of the healthcare system. He said that the booster programme needed to be accelerated, and for this to happen, the government is now working hard to secure additional vaccine doses. 

Lauterbach revealed earlier this week that the country could be facing shortages as soon as January 2022, meaning the top-up vaccine campaign would not be completed until the end of March, which he described as “not sufficient.” The Health Ministry is now looking to bring forward confirmed vaccine deliveries, with an aim to get in 50 million booster jabs, and 20 million first and second vaccinations, in the first quarter of 2022. 



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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