Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.
On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.
In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.
According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.
Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start.
After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.
Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.
“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.
Das wäre nicht nötig gewesen wenn vor dem Einlass Selbsttests gemacht worden wären. Auf 2-3 Euro wäre es bei den Preisen pro Maß nicht angekommen. Die Entwicklung zeigt aber, was passieren wird, wenn die Länder mit der Maskenpflicht im Innenraum zu lange warten. https://t.co/Kg8zTP6j68
— Prof. Karl Lauterbach (@Karl_Lauterbach) October 1, 2022
Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.
“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.
In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably. Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.
Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.
“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.
He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.
The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.