Shares in this article
BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – As soon as the restrictions in the fight against the corona pandemic have been extended and tightened, the discussion about an end to the lockdown begins. The vice-chairman of the Union parliamentary group, Georg Nlein, calls for the existing measures to be definitively terminated by February 14th after the expiry of the time limit. “Because of the massive effects, it is not justifiable to prescribe a comprehensive lockdown until the incidence number falls below 50 or below 35,” said the CSU politician of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Saturday). “If something does not happen in the next few weeks that we cannot foresee now, for example a massive spread of mutated viruses, then by mid-February at the latest we will have to take a different path from the previous one.”
Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) also wants to implement easing after February 14, if it is responsible, as he told the newspaper “Welt” – initially in schools and hairdressers. “In March we can talk about retail. And after Easter we can also talk about gastronomy.”
The opening of schools has been a hotly contested issue since the first wave. Union faction leader Ralph Brinkhaus warned against their opening too quickly. “We’re not doing ourselves any favors by allowing face-to-face lessons too early. Health comes first,” he told the “Passauer Neue Presse” (Saturday). The new virus mutations made him “very worried”.
The new CDU boss Armin Laschet dampened hopes for a long-term corona concept. “A long-term concept is difficult, because the concrete development of the pandemic, especially with the highly contagious new mutation, is difficult to predict,” said the Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (Saturday). “The incidence is currently falling. But the new mutated virus is unpredictable.”
Medical President Klaus Reinhardt – actually a supporter of the lockdown – nevertheless demanded perspectives for the population from politicians. “It is understandable that people are tired after ten months of a pandemic and that the corona protective measures are burdensome,” said the President of the Federal Medical Association of the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday). The perspectives also include clear communication about the vaccination capacities.
In this regard, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn was confident that Germany would receive “at least three million vaccine doses” from vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca in February despite its delivery difficulties. That was “unfortunately less than expected,” said the CDU politician of “Bild am Sonntag”. The prerequisite is that the vaccine is approved in the EU at the end of January, as expected.
New findings from Great Britain, according to which the virus mutation could not only be more contagious but also more deadly, will be “evaluated and we will see what conclusions we can draw from it,” said Spahn in the ARD “Tagesthemen” on Friday evening. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously stated that there was “some evidence” that the variant first discovered in the south of England may be more deadly than the previously prevalent one. However, experts advised caution. Whether and how much more lethal the new variant is is still very uncertain, warned the government’s scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance.
Due to the mutations of the virus, Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) reserves the right to extend the home office requirements for employers if necessary. “We’ll see in good time whether an extension beyond March 15 is necessary,” he told the “Rheinische Post” (Saturday).
The federal government is setting a good example when it comes to working from home. In many federal ministries in Berlin there are hardly any civil servants or employees to be found in the buildings – the home office rate is up to 85 percent, according to a survey by the German press agency. For example, Svenja Schulze’s (SPD) Ministry of the Environment currently has “a maximum reduction in attendance,” as a spokesman said. Of the 1187 employees, more than 80 percent could work from home. Before the pandemic, it was a maximum of 15 percent. In Franziska Giffey’s family ministry (SPD) it is said that an average of less than 15 percent of the 911 employees are present in the service buildings during the day.
The German health authorities reported 16,417 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 879 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours, as the RKI announced on Saturday morning. Exactly one week ago, the RKI had recorded 18,678 new infections and 980 new deaths within 24 hours.
The peak of 1,244 new deaths was reached on January 14th. Among the new infections registered within 24 hours, the highest value was reported on December 18, at 33,777 – but this contained 3,500 late reports.
The number of new infections reported within seven days per 100,000 population (seven-day incidence) was 112.6 on Saturday morning, according to the RKI. Its previous high was reached on December 22nd with 197.6./mfi/DP/zb