German Covid infection rate reaches new high

Vaccine, Omicron, Covid-19, scotland; vaccination

Germany’s coronavirus infection rate has climbed to its highest recorded level yet as what officials have termed a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” gathers pace.

The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said the country has seen 201.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That was above the previous record of 197.6 from December 22 last year.

While it is still a lower rate than in several other European countries, the figure has set alarm bells ringing.

The seven-day infection rate has long ceased to be the only yardstick for Covid-19 policy in Germany, but officials say hospitals are filling up in badly affected areas.

The disease control centre said on Monday that 15,513 new cases were reported over the past 24 hours – down from a record 37,120 on Friday, but figures are typically lower after the weekend.

Germany has struggled to find ways to pep up its slowing vaccination campaign. At least 67% of the population of 83 million is fully vaccinated, according to official figures, which authorities say is not enough.

Unlike some other European countries, it has balked at making vaccinations mandatory for any professional group.

As at many times during the pandemic, Germany has a patchwork of regional rules. Most places restrict access to many indoor facilities and events to people who have been vaccinated, have recovered or been tested — with the latter now being excluded in some areas. Enforcement of these rules is often lax.

Rules on whether schoolchildren must wear masks in class vary from state to state.

Free rapid tests for all were scrapped nearly a month ago in an effort to incentivise more people to get vaccinated.

There are now widespread calls for them to be reintroduced. And officials now advocate booster vaccinations for everyone who got their initial shots six months ago or more.

Germany currently has a caretaker national government following the election in September.

The parties expected to form the next government plan to bring legislation to parliament this week that would allow an “epidemic situation of national scope”, in place since March 2020, to expire at the end of the month, while providing a new legal framework for coronavirus measures.