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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

The main entrance to Oktoberfest in Munich.
The main entrance to Oktoberfest in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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COVID-19 STATS

German public health authority lowers Covid risk rating

Germany's Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which advises the federal government, has downgraded Covid-19 from being a “high health risk” to a “moderate risk.”

German public health authority lowers Covid risk rating

As of this week, all of Germany’s federal states have lifted their requirement to wear FFP2 or KN95 masks on public transport, while the federal government no longer requires masks on long-distance trains.

Alongside this news, the RKI released its weekly report Thursday evening finally lowering its advisory for Covid-19 to “moderate.” It had previously considered the health risk of Covid-19 “high” – a status it had for almost the entire duration of the pandemic. 

The RKI says it could still upgrade the risk again if the Covid-19 situation in Germany worsens. It recommends that people still wear a mask indoors, ventilate their indoor spaces, and isolate at home if they get sick.

Isolation requirements remain on the books in many – but not all – federal states, even as masking requirements on public transport have lifted around the country.

The number of Covid-19 cases reported to the RKI increased by about 16 percent this weak. However, the number of severe cases requiring hospital care continues to fall.

Although mask requirements have been lifted on public transport and even in doctor’s surgeries in some states, federal regulations still require people to mask up if they visit a hospital or care home. In some cases, a negative Covid-19 test may be required to enter these facilities.

READ ALSO: What Covid rules are still in place in Germany from February?

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