Berlin In view of the new record numbers of corona infections, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is pushing for a stricter lockdown. Because: “This is not a complete lockdown, the rules are not strictly followed, and there are still too many exceptions,” said RKI boss Lothar Wieler at a press conference this Thursday – four weeks after the tightening of the lockdown on December 16. “We have to sharpen that,” he demanded. He also personally “doesn’t sleep well” in view of the high death toll.
On Wednesday, according to the data reported to the RKI, 1,244 more people who had tested positive for Corona died – a new record. This increases the number of deaths to a total of 43,881. There were also 25,164 new positive tests. It is “quite possible that the situation will get worse,” warned Wieler.
Currently, the data are still not clearly interpretable because of the many medical practices and laboratories closed at the turn of the year. The number of weekly tests has dropped from 1.5 million to around 700,000.
Wieler therefore urged that all citizens “work from home wherever possible”. Significantly more “responsible employers” are needed here who allow and enable this.
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For old people’s and nursing homes and schools, the RKI can only make recommendations – “but they have to be implemented on site,” said Wieler. The many examples of homes in which there are no infections show “that it is possible to protect the residents well”.
Wieler urged all citizens to “only travel when they have to” and otherwise stay at home. Because the mobility of the Germans decreased significantly less in the second lockdown than in the spring, added the RKI model expert Dirk Brockmann, who was also present at the RKI press conference.
Although many people would have waived long-distance travel over the holidays, “but the short trips and day trips were sometimes even more frequent than in December 2019” – i.e. before the outbreak of the corona pandemic.
Obviously there are not only those who refused the measures, but also “very many who know very well that they are necessary, but allow themselves more and more exceptions,” said the virologist. All experts who try to look into the future by modeling the development “agree that the lockdown must be tightened”.
According to the findings of the RKI, the new, more contagious corona variants also came almost entirely through travel: Of the 16 cases of the British mutation known to date, 15 occurred in people who had previously been in Great Britain.
In the case of the four people suffering from the South African variant of Covid, this applies to everyone. The British variant is known to be around 50 percent more contagious than others. 10 sick people currently infect 15 more people – instead of currently 10 more.
Wieler admitted that far too few genome studies have been carried out and published in Germany so far. In December there were only 200 to 250 of them. In Great Britain, however, there are many thousands every day. However, with the new reporting obligation and the assumption of costs by the federal government, this will probably change from next week.
This is also necessary to permanently check whether the developed vaccines are also effective against new variants. It is reassuring, however, that the new mRNA vaccines from Biontech and Modern “Can be easily adapted to a new virus variant within a few weeks”.
Nevertheless, the following applies: “We can use as much technology as we want and also test as much as we want – it is crucial that we all significantly reduce contacts,” appealed Wieler. Because even so, the fight against the virus will “still take a few months”. He was only confident about the long term: “By the end of the year we will have controlled the pandemic.”
More: All current developments relating to the coronavirus in the Handelsblatt live blog.