The Berlin Spectator
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Germany: Number of New Infections Jumps Up Yet Again

The latest numbers show why the federal government and the states tightened the Corona measures until Christmas. And they highlight how risky it was to ease the restrictions temporarily for the holidays.

Berlin, November 26th, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — While Chancellor Merkel and the First Ministers were busy announcing new Corona rules for December, the number of new infections increased yet again. According to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, 22,268 new Corona cases were reported within 24 hours. According to the data gathered by Johns Hopkins University, which uses the same sources but counts at different times, as many as 32,687 (no typo) new infections were added within one day.

The total number of Corona cases in Germany since the crisis began will reach one million today.

Partial Success

These numbers are obviously alarming. They show why the partial lockdown was just prolonged and why tightened rules were put in place. They also show that the goal of getting the numbers down has not been reached in spite of the measures that have been in place for weeks, some even for months. What today’s numbers do not show is how high they would have been, had the measures not been implemented. This aspect is the partial success Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about on Wednesday.

In Berlin, Germany’s largest hotspot with 3.8 million inhabitants, hardly any improvement is visible. More than 1,600 new Corona cases were reported in 24 hours and the hospitals are filling up more. Right now, 1,109 Corona patients are being treated at the German capital’s hospitals. Three hundred and two of them are in intensive care. Out of the latter patients, 241 are connected to respirators.

New Measures Criticized

The only good news is that the number of districts with Seven Day Incidence Numbers that exceed 200 has dropped to six. Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is the district with the highest infection numbers right now. Spandau, Neukölln, Tempelhof-Schöneberg and Mitte are in bad situations as well. So is the entire city. It remains to be seen whether and when the measures will kick in.

Just after the Corona approach for December was announced on Wednesday night, it was already criticized. The MP and health expert Karl Lauterbach told the ‘Funke Mediengruppe’ publishing house, the temporary easing of measures was risky. That way, Christmas and New Year’s Eve could become a “kickstarter” for the pandemic, he said. It depended on how people would behave.

Angela Merkel explained yesterday’s decisions at the Bundestag this morning.

Risky Parties

Representatives of the doctor’s union ‘Marburger Bund’ told the same editorial pool, they feared a “collapse” of clinics because of “risky New Year’s Eve parties”. Whenever alcohol was part of it, indoor gatherings would become “drivers for infections”. Celebrating the new year with few people was a lot better.

Among other things, Angela Merkel and the First Ministers had decided to ease the new contact restrictions from December 23rd to January 1st, in order to let families spend the holidays together up to a certain degree. During that time period, up to 10 people from two households may gather. For the time before Christmas, the measures were tightened. The maximum number of people who may meet is 5. Kids under the age of 14 do not count here. People were advised to go into quarantines before Christmas.

Merkel at Bundestag

On Thursday morning, Mrs. Merkel explained the latest decisions at the Berlin Bundestag. She also said wearing masks alone was no guarantee for not getting infected. That was why the contact restrictions had been tightened.

For the extremist right-wing party ‘AfD’, its floor leader Alice Weidel accused the government of patronizing people. She said the “collateral damage” created by the Corona measures was worse than the damage the virus had done.

Ralf Brinkhaus, the floor leader for Angela Merkel’s own party CDU, said the decisions had been right. But he criticized the fact that decisions about financial aspects had been taken without the parliament’s approval.