German New Infections Rise, Prompting Return to Local Curbs

Germany recorded an increase in the number of new coronavirus cases and the infection rate remained above a key threshold, as a number of localized outbreaks raise concerns that the disease might flare up again more widely.

  • There were 712 new infections in the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, up from 496 the previous day and bringing the total to 192,480, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That compares with almost 7,000 at the peak of the pandemic in late March. Fatalities increased by 15 to 8,914.
  • Health Minister Jens Spahn said it’s important to make clear that even if infection numbers have generally been lower for some weeks, the virus is still present.
  • “We can see that when we make things too easy for this virus, it spreads very, very quickly again,” Spahn said Wednesday in an interview with ARD television. “We have seen how quickly localized events can spread to the rest of Germany.”
  • The reproduction factor -- or R value -- fell to 2.02 on Tuesday from 2.76 the day before, according to the latest estimate by the country’s health body, the Robert Koch Institute. A number below 1.0 helps prevent exponential growth in the number of cases and a second wave of infections.
  • The estimate means that out of 100 people who get infected, a further 202 people are likely to contract the virus.
  • The infection rate has been lifted by local outbreaks, including in two municipalities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In the district of Guetersloh, more than 1,900 people were infected, most of them working at a local meat plant.
  • “It’s important to me that we talk about working conditions in slaughter houses, beyond the coronavirus,” Spahn told ARD. “It’s right that we are dealing with this at the legislative level. This sector, the meat processing companies, had enough time to sort things out. They didn’t do that and now we’ll legislate to sort it out.”
  • NOTE: Germany Cracks Down on Meat Packers After Coronavirus Outbreaks
  • Officials in NRW have reimposed severe restrictions on daily life that affect about 640,000 people in Guetersloh and nearby Warendorf. Meetings in public spaces are restricted to two people or members from the same household, and museums, cinemas, bars and swimming pools have been shuttered.
  • Since case numbers in Germany are generally low, local outbreaks have a relatively strong influence on the R value, according to the RKI.
  • The RKI also provides a seven-day R value, which compensates for fluctuations. That value was 1.67 on Tuesday, down from 1.83 the previous day.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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