Covid

Local health authorities are struggling to keep up with coronavirus outbreaks in a number of German cities as rising infections rates make track-and-trace strategies no longer viable, a government spokesman said on Friday.

Steffen Seibert refrained from commenting on concerns that Germany could soon be recording 20,000 new infections nationwide on a daily basis, stressing to reporters in Berlin “that the issue certainly has to also be observed at a regional and local level.”

“It does not currently make much sense to throw out certain numbers pertaining to new infections across all of Germany,” a Health Ministry spokesman added.

Since last week, Germany has been recording higher daily infection numbers than at the start of the pandemic in March, although testing has been ramped up significantly since then.

Germany recorded 11,242 new infections on Friday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control, bringing the country’s total caseload to 403,291. Almost 10,000 people have died of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, data collated by the DIVI association, which works in tandem with the RKI to monitor intensive-care capacity in Germany, showed that hospital beds were filling up.

Currently, 1,121 Covid-19 patients are in intensive care in German hospitals, compared to 690 a week ago, and 293 a month ago. Four hundred and seventy-eight people are on ventilators after catching the virus.

The DIVI’s register showed that 21,736 intensive-care beds were currently occupied, leaving 7,784 free.

Germany, which has one of the highest intensive-care capacities worldwide, has so far avoided the hospital bottlenecks seen in other regions such as New York and northern Italy earlier in the year.

Germany has also taken in Covid-19 patients from other European countries, including most recently the Netherlands, which helicoptered a patient to a hospital in the city of Muenster early Friday, with further flights planned for over the weekend.

Mask rules have been extended and restrictions on gatherings introduced in a number of German regions struggling to contain outbreaks, including Berlin.

Large parts of the western region of North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most-populous state, are also considered high-risk, and Berchtesgadener Land, a Bavarian district on the border with Austria, has been placed under lockdown.

This weekend, hundreds of federal police are to be deployed to the German capital to break up illegal parties and gatherings outside the city’s popular off-licence shops.

“Anyone who disregards the rules while shopping or enjoying Berlin nightlife must expect to be approached by the police,” Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter warned.

Due to the stretched track-and-trace capacities, Berlin has changed tack, with the city’s state health minister Dilek Kalayci asking people with a positive coronavirus result to isolate without reporting to the local health authority first.

It will be up to individuals to inform their contacts about their infection, so that they too can quarantine, shifting the responsibility for stemming the spread onto private citizens.

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