dpa/GNA – Germany marked a new milestone in its battle to reduce coronavirus cases on Thursday as the seven-day incidence – a key metric in tracking the virus’ spread – fell to below 100 for the first time since late October.
The number of infections confirmed per 100,000 residents during a one-week period stood at 98, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control reported.
This was roughly half the level it reached on December 22, at 197.6, which was a high point for the country in the pandemic.
The German government’s aim is to bring the seven-day incidence down to below 50, at which point overwhelmed health authorities can resume tracking chains of infection and implementing quarantine strategies.
Germany has closed schools, non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, and leisure and cultural facilities under a lockdown that has been incrementally tightened since early November.
The measures also ban people from meeting with more than one other person from another household.
The restrictions are currently to remain in place until at least February 14.
More than 2.1 million people have caught the novel coronavirus so far in Germany, of whom 54,913 have died, according to the RKI.
Despite the progress shown over the course of the lockdown, the German government remains on high alert due to new fast-spreading variants of the virus found abroad and the sluggish pace of vaccinations at home.
On Thursday, Health Minister Jens Spahn proposed a meeting with the nation’s 16 state administrations to focus solely on the vaccination drive.
He also called for pharmaceutical industry representatives and vaccine producers to be invited to give their expert opinion, particularly on the “complex” issue of production.
“Because we are working on the assumption of at least 10 more hard weeks due to the vaccine shortage,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.
Germany’s vaccination drive was dealt a major blow last week when AstraZeneca slashed its expected initial deliveries of vaccine doses to the European Union by around 60 per cent, according to the bloc.
Germany is approaching the 2-million mark in terms of Covid-19 vaccinations administered. Some 2 per cent of its population of 83 million have received a first dose, according to Health Ministry data.
Swift progress in countries like Britain and Israel has put pressure on German and EU officials to speed up the vaccination process, despite bottlenecks in international production.