German Minister of Health: COVID-19 Situation Still Critical

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Friday (11/3) said the COVID-19 situation in Germany remained serious and urged Germans not to behave as if this pandemic was over.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Berlin, Lauterbach described the COVID-19 situation as still critical, and there was a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant, as well as several other sub-variants.

On Friday the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Robert Koch Institute in Germany reported that more than 250,000 new cases had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, along with 249 deaths. The figure came a day after Germany recorded a record 262,752 cases per day. The infection rate stood at 1,439 new cases per 100,000 population for seven days.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach gives a press conference in Berlin on Friday (11/3).

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach gives a press conference in Berlin on Friday (11/3).

Lauterbach said a more contagious version of the omicron variant known as BA.2 accounts for half of cases in Germany. The general opinion that the micron variant is softer is only true to a certain extent, he said.

Meanwhile he also alleged that the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions across the country was to blame. Germany has relaxed various coronavirus-related restrictions, and plans to remove most of them by March 20.

“The perception among the population, including those who are part of the political landscape, is that we seem to have managed to overcome this pandemic, and this pandemic has passed. This is a wrong opinion.”

He said people cannot be satisfied with a situation where 200 to 250 people die every day, and the prospect is that in a few weeks more people will die.

The German government has drawn up new regulations allowing state governments to impose mandatory mask wearing, testing and additional measures at virus “hot spots” afterward.

Masks are still required when traveling long distances by train and airplane. [jm/pp]