Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Germany forecasts big Omicron growth over holiday period


BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Germany’s health minister said on Friday that the proportion of coronavirus infections with the new Omicron variant will rise sharply in the coming days, and urged people to take steps to avoid infection during Christmas celebrations .

German officials are anticipating another wave of COVID-19 cases as a result of Omicron, although so far the delta variant is dominant in the country and the case numbers have been on a downward trend after a spike last month.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wrote on Twitter: “The proportion of Omicron cases will increase very rapidly in the coming days.” He acknowledged there would be delays in reporting holiday figures to local health offices, but added, “we are still monitoring developments.”

“Please avoid infection during the festivities,” Lauterbach wrote. “Even those who are vaccinated should get themselves tested.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted that he knew it was difficult to reduce contacts at Christmas “but if we stand together and get vaccinated, we will overcome this crisis.”

As of Wednesday, 3,198 COVID-19 cases in Germany were attributed to Omicron, according to the National Centers for Disease Control, a 25% increase from the previous day. The Centers for Disease Control said Thursday that 48 of those people were hospitalized and one died.

German authorities are imposing new contact restrictions, while much of the region is closing nightclubs and taking other measures. In most cases, the restrictions are set to take effect just after Christmas, although some will go into effect from Friday.

In his televised Christmas message, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was up to individuals as well as officials to act responsibly during a public health crisis.

“The state cannot impose a protective mask for us. It cannot even be vaccine for us,” he said, according to a text issued by his office before the broadcast of the speech. “No, it comes down to us – to each of us.”

Steinmeier thanked “the large, often silent majority in our country who have worked carefully and responsibly for months.” He urged people to remember that “we are one country” after demonstrations against restrictions and a planned universal vaccine mandate flared up in Germany in recent weeks.


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