Coronavirus in Germany: ‘Children should not be cared for by grandparents’

As the coronavirus situation in Germany worsens, experts are advising parents to think about alternative childcare and for everyone to do some social distancing.

Coronavirus in Germany: 'Children should not be cared for by grandparents'
A sign telling people not to shake hands at a bank in Dortmund. Photo: DPA

As of Thursday afternoon, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany topped 2,300 – up from around 1,500 from Wednesday morning – and there have been four reported deaths.

Taking these growing numbers into account, the Robert Koch Institute urged for more “social distancing” in Germany, especially to protect the country's most vulnerable population: the elderly.

Breaking down demographics

The Robert Koch Institute analysed about 650 cases of those who've contracted the virus in more detail, reported German daily Welt on Thursday.

Through studying the cases, researchers found that 54 percent are male and 46 percent female. Among them there were 11 children under 5-years-old and another 14 children up to the age of 14.

A total of 547 people were between 15 and 59 years old, and 76 people were over the age of 60.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

RKI President Lothar Wieler said that 60 to 70 per cent of the population would become infected with the virus over a longer period of time.

'The mortality rate will rise rapidly'

And he said the country should unfortunately expect more deaths.

“Of course, more people will die in our country,” Wieler said. “Particularly when it comes to those over 65, the mortality rate will rise rapidly.”

Authorities and experts have therefore called on people in Germany to try and protect people in this age group.

“We must really protect the population above the retirement age,” said the director of the Institute of Virology at the Berlin Charité, Christian Drosten, at the beginning of the week.

He said families needed to look for solutions that would keep older people safe.

“From now until September or October, children should no longer go to grandma and grandpa for care,” he said.

READ ALSO: School closures and no partying: How coronavirus is affecting life in Germany

File photo shows a grandfather with his grandchild in Hanover. Photo: DPA

Keeping distance

Instead, he advised that families help out grandparents by getting their shopping for them so they were less at risk.

The RKI has also called on people in Germany to keep their distance from each other.

“Social distancing” is currently the most important measure, RKI Vice President Lars Schaade told journalists in Berlin.

“The point is to create distance between people.”

Even though numerous events have been cancelled, Schaade said everyone should consider if their social engagement is worth carrying out.

People should even consider when or if to visit a restaurant, he said. This also applies to meetings and bigger social gatherings.

“This is an appeal to personal responsibility,” said Schaade.

It echoes calls from both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Health Minister Jens Spahn earlier this week who said people in Germany needed to do their bit to protect vulnerable people by trying to limit the spread of the virus.

“Our solidarity, our reason and our hearts are already being put to the test, and I hope that we will pass this test,” said Merkel.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: What restrictions are there to daily life in Germany?


Social distancing – (die) Soziale Distanzierung

Population – (die) Bevölkerung

Solidarity – (die) Solidarität

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Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

It’s back again: amid sinking temperatures, the incidence of Covid-19 has been slowly rising in Germany. But is this enough to merit worrying about the virus?

Could there be a new wave of Covid-19 in Germany this autumn?

More people donning face masks in supermarkets, friends cancelling plans last minute due to getting sick with Covid-19. We might have seen some of those familiar reminders recently that the coronavirus is still around, but could there really be a resurgence of the virus like we experienced during the pandemic years?

According to virologists, the answer seems to be ‘maybe’: since July, the number of people newly infected with Covid-19 has been slowly rising from a very low level.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), nine people per 100,000 inhabitants became newly infected in Germany last week. A year ago, there were only around 270 reported cases.

Various Corona variants are currently on the loose in the country. According to the RKI,  the EG.5 (also called Eris) and XBB.1.16 lines were each detected in the week ending September 3rd with a share of just under 23 percent. 

The highly mutated variant BA.2.86 (Pirola), which is currently under observation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also arrived in the country this week, according to RKI. 

High number of unreported case

The RKI epidemiologists also warned about a high number of unreported cases since hardly any testing is done. They pointed out that almost half of all registered sewage treatment plants report an increasing viral load in wastewater tests.

The number of hospital admissions has also increased slightly, but are still a far cry from the occupation rate amid the pandemic. Last week it was two per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intensive care units, only 1.2 percent of all beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Still, a good three-quarters (76.4 percent) of people in Germany have been vaccinated at least twice and thus have basic immunity, reported RKI. 

Since Monday, doctors’ offices have been vaccinating with the adapted vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer, available to anyone over 12 years old, with a vaccine for small children set to be released the following week and one for those between 5 and 11 to come out October 2nd.

But Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has so far only recommended that people over 60 and those with pre-existing conditions get vaccinated.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who should get a Covid jab this autumn in Germany?

“The pandemic is over, the virus remains,” he said. “We cannot predict the course of coming waves of corona, but it is clear that older people and people with pre-existing conditions remain at higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19”

The RKI also recommended that people with a cold voluntarily wear a mask. Anyone exhibiting cough, cold, sore throat or other symptoms of a respiratory illness should voluntarily stay at home for three to five days and take regular corona self-tests. 

However, further measures such as contact restrictions are not necessary, he said.

One of many diseases

As of this autumn, Covid-19 could be one of many respiratory diseases. As with influenza, there are no longer absolute infection figures for coronavirus.

Saarbrücken pharmacist Thorsten Lehr told German broadcaster ZDF that self-protection through vaccinations, wearing a mask and getting tested when symptoms appear are prerequisites for surviving the Covid autumn well. 

Only a new, more aggressive mutation could completely turn the game around, he added.

On April 7th of this year, Germany removed the last of its over two-year long coronavirus restrictions, including mask-wearing in some public places.

READ ALSO: German doctors recommend Covid-19 self-tests amid new variant