Fact check: Just how bad is the current coronavirus situation in Germany?

Fact check: Just how bad is the current coronavirus situation in Germany?
People shopping in Cologne on Friday. Photo: DPA
There is talk of an imminent lockdown in Germany as daily coronavirus cases go up again. What's going on? We look at the facts in the current situation.

What's the latest?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a new high in confirmed new Covid-19 cases on Friday: 29,875 new infections were registered within 24 hours.

This is around 6,000 more compared to Thursday, when the previous record of 23,679 was reported.

The RKI on Friday said 598 people had died within a day. The previous daily Covid-19 record for deaths was reached on Wednesday when 590 people were reported to have died.

READ ALSO: Germany mulls three-week lockdown from December 20th


Are numbers really consistently rising?

Recently, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians and experts said that the shutdown, which started in Germany on November 2nd, had halted the exponential growth of infections. Daily infection numbers then levelled out at around 20,000 or just under.

However, now a clear increase in the number of cases can be observed in Germany since December 4th, according to the RKI. A week ago, an average of just under 18,000 cases were reported within seven days. Currently, the figure is more than 20,000.

Economics Minister Peter Altmaier said: “The exponential growth is starting again. And that means: we have to act urgently.”

RKI boss Lothar Wieler on Thursday also warned that it was possible for the numbers to tip into exponential growth once again.

The number of deaths in connection with Covid-19 also reached a new high of 598 on Friday morning. In total, there have been 20,970 registered deaths related to the virus in Germany so far.

The chart below by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,shows the daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases in Germany.

Where are most people becoming infected?

Since local health offices are overloaded, it is only possible to trace where people are becoming infected for a small proportion of cases.

The RKI writes of “numerous clusters, especially in households and old people's and nursing homes, but also in occupational settings, in community facilities and starting from religious events”.

A major problem is the increasing number of outbreaks in facilities for the elderly. Alarmingly, there are currently almost twice as many outbreaks in these facilities than in August, RKI boss Lothar Wieler said.

It's also reflected in the age distribution of those getting Covid-19.

While the numbers in younger age groups are stagnating or slightly decreasing, they are increasing in the older population. In the last calendar week, for example, the number of confirmed new infections in the group of people over 80 years of age was 325 per 100,000 inhabitants; at the beginning of November, the figure was still 171.

Since the risk of a severe course of the disease increases steadily from the age of 50 to 60, the many infections in the older age groups also drives up the number of deaths and seriously ill people.

By far the most deaths (85 percent) in Germany occur in people over 70, and the risk is particularly high in the group of people over 80.

More cases are happening at old people's homes in Germany. Photo: DPA

How many people are in intensive care units (ICU)?

The number of Covid-19 patients in ICU beds also continues to rise. At noon on Thursday, hospitals in Germany reported 4,339 coronavirus patients who were so critically ill that they had to be treated in intensive care. According to the report, more than half of those affected (58 percent) are on ventilation.

In the entire period of the pandemic, just under one in four patients who were treated in intensive care with Covid-19 in Germany died. Like the other data, this also emerges from surveys by the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi).

Of Germany's 27,295 registered intensive care beds, 22,542 (83 percent) were occupied at noon on Thursday; 4,753 (17 percent) of the beds were vacant at that time. In some regions of Bavaria and Saxony, there are four, five or even six Covid-19 patients per 10 intensive care beds, indicating how serious the situation is.

Is the picture bad across Germany?

It's important to note that there are big differences within Germany. In most federal states, the increase in the number of cases has slowed down since November 9th and stabilised at a high level.

However, there are three noticeable exceptions: In Saxony-Anhalt, the number of cases has risen significantly in recent weeks, in Thuringia very significantly, and in Saxony most strongly.

READ ALSO: These maps will help you understand the state of the pandemic in Germany

The DPA map below shows the districts with the highest number of infections per 100,000 people in the last seven days.

With 313 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reported within seven days, the state of Saxony now has the highest incidence rate in Germany – ahead of Thuringia (195) and Bavaria (188). The lowest values were reported by the state of Schleswig-Holstein (68), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (71) and Lower Saxony (79).

For Germany as a whole, the RKI counted on average 156 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.

The goal of the federal and state governments is to reduce this figure to below 50. This would enable health authorities to retrace chains of infection and isolate people who have had contact with infected people. in a more targeted manner.

How many infections have been documented in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic?

The total number of confirmed infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany has risen to 1,272,078.

However, there's likely to be many undetected cases, especially since the government called on people with cold or flu symptoms to self-isolate rather than automatically put themselves forward for a coronavirus test. That's because labs and staff have been struggling to cope in winter when many people pick up respiratory infections similar to Covid-19

According to estimates, around 942,100 people have since recovered from the acute infection. However, some of them suffer from long-term consequences, so-called 'long-Covid'.

Why do the numbers keep rising?

The RKI says the reproduction number or R number has been fluctuating around 1. That means that on average, each person infected with Covid-19 infects one other person.

But as the number of infected people is currently very high in Germany, “this results in a high number of new infections every day”.

To view more charts, maps and graphs on Germany's Covid-19 situation you can visit Our World in Data.

Member comments

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  1. How many had commorbities how many were already sick with other problems. How many were over 80. You never hear any details. In the end is the vaccine going to be compulsory. Some people are going to make a fortune out of this. Gates and his cronies are already talking about the next pandemic

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