Belgium, (Brussels Morning) Germany registered a new maximum of COVID-19 cases yesterday, in a sixth wave of infections that has led the federated states to consider extending current restrictions beyond 20 March, the date scheduled for the next relaxation of pandemic-related control measures.
Record high number
The cumulative incidence over the last seven days stands at 1,585 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. There were 1,543 on Monday, 1,293 a week ago and 1,437.5 a month ago, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch (RKI) Institute of Virology.
Health authorities reported 198,888 new positives and 283 deaths in 24 hours, up from 156,799 and 324 respectively a week ago, while active cases are estimated at around 3,592,600.
Given the advance of the BA.2 “stealth” subvariant of COVID-19 and the increase in new infections, federal states such as Berlin, Hamburg, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate had indicated their intention already to prolong the pandemic-restriction measures. Before this sudden unexpected rise, the plan was that most measures would be eased this Sunday.
However, the new phase of easing restrictions includes retention of basic protection measures such as tests and masks, with provision for additional measures, if required, when localised outbreaks are recorded.
As of Monday, 76.5% of the German population — around 63.6 million people — had been vaccinated and 57.9% (around 48.1 million) had received a booster dose.
France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands are also experiencing rising COVID-19 infections, a trend attributed to the relaxation of measures and the spread of subvariant BA.2.
Hong Kong and South Korea
Meanwhile, virologist and government adviser Christian Drosten sounded a warning note on his Twitter account about the effects of Omicron, pointing out that “Hong Kong shows, unsurprisingly, that Omicron does not just cause mild illness in unvaccinated elderly people.”
Yesterday, Hong Kong, which counts and reports autonomously from China, reported 27,765 new cases of contagion and 289 deaths in the preceding 24 hours.
Taking this into account, Drosten noted that Germany “still has more than two million unvaccinated people over the age of 60.”
South Korea has also recorded its highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. On Tuesday, the East Asian nation reported 293 deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,196 virus patients in serious or critical conditions — also a new high.