German health minister: ‘Pandemic by no means over’

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Coronavirus Variant Illustration Of V
Coronavirus Variant Illustration Of V

German Health Minister Jens Spahn expressed concern on Wednesday at the current levels of infection and hospitalization linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic is by no means over,” he said in Berlin, pointing to a rise in the number of patients in intensive care units in certain regions.

The minister, who is in office in a caretaker capacity as talks proceed to form a new government, was speaking ahead of a meeting of the ministers of the 16 states on the pandemic planned for Thursday and Friday. German health policy falls largely to the states.

Spahn repeated his call for vaccine booster shots, saying the rate of vaccination was too low. All the states should contact residents older than 60 to offer them, he said. He also noted that people seeking to be vaccinated could not always find a doctor able to do so.

Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the official disease control body, warned that a fresh wave of the pandemic was on its way.

“If we do not act, this fourth wave will again bring a great deal of suffering. Many people will fall seriously ill and die, and the health services will be under extreme pressure again,” Wieler said in Berlin.

Wieler attributed the situation to insufficient vaccination and increasing failure to observe the rules. Pointing to rising deaths, he described the figures as “shocking.”

While RKI figures have shown a slight decline over recent days, with the seven-day incidence figure hitting 146.6 per 100,000 early on Wednesday, from 153.7 on Tuesday, they are still well up on a week ago, when the figure was 118.0.

Deaths attributed to the virus over the past 24 hours reached 194, from 114 a week ago.

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