Germany’s health officials said Thursday new COVID-19 cases are spreading at the fastest rate since April.
Health Minister Jens Spahn joined Robert Kock Institute for Disease Control President Lothar Wieler at a news conference in Berlin, where they said the number of new cases of the coronavirus has been rising steadily in Germany since early September. Wieler told reporters, “In the last few days between 1,000 and today even more than 4,000 cases have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute every day.”
Weiler said the first seven days of October had seen about twice as many cases as the same period in September. He said the current weekly nationwide average rate of COVID-19 incidence is 20.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; at the beginning of June it was three.
Wieler said the incidence of infection is increasing in almost all regions of Germany, and that worried him greatly. He said he was unsure of how it will develop in the coming weeks, and that it is possible Germany could see 10,000 cases a day and the virus could spread uncontrollably.
The outlook is particularly alarming for a country considered to have had one of the most effective responses to the pandemic in Europe, if not the world. Spahn said Germany has coped with the crisis well, so far, with the health system able to handle the patient load and a generally high level of acceptance among citizens of COVID-19 restrictions.
The health minister said a big part of the problem now is young people, who are getting the virus at a higher rate than earlier in the year. He said youth want to party and travel because they believe they are invulnerable. “They are not. A corona infection is and remains a serious illness," he said.
But Spahn said the virus is not out of control now, and if the nation pulls together and follows guidelines, it can rein it in again. “If 80 million people take part, the chances of the virus drop dramatically. This pandemic is also a character test, a test of character for us as a society," he said.