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Debate in Germany on coronavirus measures as cases creep up

Published October 20,2021
German Health Minister Jens Spahn wears a face mask as he sits at his place at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin. (Ina Fassbender/AFP)

A majority of Germans support ending the nationwide state of emergency to contain the coronavirus pandemic but back keeping protective measures in place, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

The Yougov poll found 57 per cent backing an end to the emergency as planned at the end of next month, provided that rules are kept in place stipulating that in certain situations people must show that they have either been vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 or have been tested negative recently.

Health Minister Jens Spahn has proposed allowing the state of emergency to end on November 25, when the current parliamentary mandate expires.

Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller has come out against Spahn's plan. "We need a transitional period at least," he told regional public broadcaster RBB-Inforadio on Wednesday.

And Tom Luedde, a Dusseldorf-based infection specialist, noted the millions of unvaccinated people in Germany, including up to 4 million at particular risk of serious illness from the virus.

Winter conditions could cause a spike in hospital admissions and in deaths, he told the Koelnische Rundschau newspaper.

The official disease control body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), noted a steady rise in cases over the past week.

The seven-day incidence - the currently preferred indicator in Germany - had risen to 80.4 per 100,000 residents on Wednesday morning, by comparison with 75.1 on Tuesday and 65.4 a week ago, the RKI said. The RKI put the reproduction rate, or R-value, at precisely 1.

Health authorities across the country had recorded 17,015 new infections over the 24 hours to early Wednesday, up from 11,903 a week ago. These figures understated the true number, the RKI said.