Germany hits record Covid infection rate since start of pandemic | Germany

Germany has recorded its highest rate of Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic as mask-wearing mandates in shops, restaurants and schools will end in many parts of the country this weekend -end.

The country’s disease control agency on Wednesday reported a record incidence rate of 1,607 new infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days, one of the highest in Europe. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute recorded a total of 262,593 new confirmed cases and 269 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

Experts say the true number of cases could be even higher as testing facilities have reached capacity and those who test positive with a lateral flow test are no longer required to perform a PCR test which would appear in the statistics. .

The number of people in German intensive care wards with Covid is rising but the death rate from the virus is considerably lower than in the 2020-21 winter wave.

Germany’s rise in infections is likely still due to the Omicron variant and in particular its “stealth” sub-variant, BA.2, which accounted for nearly half of all cases recorded last week. Less than 1% of infections are now due to the Delta variant.

In neighboring France, which is also seeing a monthly rise in infection rates, Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Wednesday that the current rebound is expected to peak by the end of the month. Véran defended France’s decision to lift most of the restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic from this Monday.

In Germany, the current set of Covid restrictions expires on March 19 and will be replaced by a lighter set of rules, seen as a compromise deal between the center-left Social Democrats of Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and the pro-Liberal Democratic Party business of Justice Minister Marco Buschmann.

Wearing a mask will remain compulsory in public transport, hospitals and rest homes but not in shops, restaurants and schools.

The government retains an option to tighten the rules – including restricting access to non-essential shops for unvaccinated people – in hotspots experiencing dramatic surges of the virus.

Some German states, including Berlin, Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg, have extended the current set of rules until the end of this month. “We still have free time for a ‘freedom day’,” Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey said on Tuesday.

From April 1, the German capital is expected to end not only most Covid-related restrictions, but also the free lateral flow testing options currently provided at various venues. “We should be prepared to see fewer test centers in the city,” Giffey told broadcaster RBB.

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