The head of Germany's disease control agency said Thursday that while the coronavirus infection rate in the country remains serious, there are signs a partial lockdown is working.
Germany implemented restrictive measures in early November to curb a nationwide surge in cases, closing bars, restaurants and other leisure venues but keeping schools and shops open.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Robert Koch Institute chief Lothar Wieler said the number of new infections has since plateaued, with 22,609 reported on Thursday - roughly the same number as a week ago. He said the fact they are not rising is good news but cautioned that it was too early to say if this is a trend.
Wieler said the overall number of cases is still too high, and there is a risk that hospitals may become overwhelmed. Wieler, however, also expressed optimism the numbers will start to go down now that they have stabilized.
Wieler also said the news this week that at least two potential vaccines are showing better than 90 percent effectiveness was "extremely encouraging.” He said, “I know if the vaccines have an efficacy of more than 90% then they would be great weapons. That's great."
Wieler said it was unclear how long the restrictions would remain in place. When they were implemented, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the plan was for them to run through November, in hopes the nation would be able to lift some of them in time for the Christmas holiday in December.
The Robert Koch Institute reports Germany now has seen a total of 855,916 cases and 13,370 deaths from the infection. The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.