Germany's Scholz expects lighter Covid-19 restrictions this year
Published July 03,2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed optimism on Sunday that the country would require less severe Covid-19 measures this year to tackle the expected rise in cases during the autumn and winter months.
His comments came as the country grapples with a summer wave of infections caused by new highly infections variants.
"There should be no more school closures and I don't think we'll need the kind of lockdown that we've had in the last years," Scholz told the public ARD broadcaster.
He spoke of a "completely changed situation," now that basic vaccination rates stood at 76% in Germany.
However, Scholz said that Covid-19 testing and compulsory mask wearing could play a greater role in the colder autumn and winter months. He also called on those aged over 60 to get a fourth Covid-19 jab.
Infection rates have been on the rise, driven largely by the more contagious Omicron BA.5 subvariant.
The number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care treatment has risen in Germany to 1,000, according to a daily report.
The latest figure charted by the Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) represents a new peak since mid-May. By comparison, in December, almost 4,900 Covid-19 patients were simultaneously in intensive care.
The overall increase was described as "moderate" by Christian Karagiannidis, a member of the government's Covid-19 expert panel and the head of the DIVI register.
He noted that around 50% of ICU patients were in need of respiratory support, compared to more than 80% at the peak of the pandemic before the Omicron variant took hold.
Germany's official seven-day incidence stood at 696.5 on Saturday, according to the Robert Koch Institute disease control body. That compares to the previous week's figure of 632.9 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last seven days.
Experts believe, however, that very many cases are not captured in the official data. Among other indications, samples from cities' waste water monitoring pointed to a far higher increase than the official incidence rate, Karagiannidis noted.