Corona numbers: hope that the third wave will break

Researchers observe a plateau in the number of infections. It could be a first harbinger of falling numbers - if everyone continues to participate

There is cautious optimism among clinics and scientists about the latest infection numbers in the pandemic. After the nationwide seven-day incidence doubled from mid-March to mid-April, the numbers have stagnated for around two weeks at just over 160.

Two opposing trends

"At the moment we have a mixture of opposing trends," said virologist Klaus Stöhr German press agency. On the one hand, there is still the pressure of infection during the cool season, which is driving up the number of infections. In addition, there is a pandemic fatigue in the population including more mobility and contacts.

On the other hand, infections and vaccinations, for example, put a brake on infections. This compensation explains the stagnation for him at the moment, said Stöhr. He is optimistic. As soon as it gets warmer outside, the numbers would go down in about two more weeks, the expert forecast. Because outside, the risk of infection is much lower.

The danger of this positive scenario: More people than now may be careless and no longer adhere to protective measures and requirements. That could put everything at risk again. As of Wednesday, the health authorities in Germany reported 22,231 new corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 312 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours.

"Hopefully the measures seem to be taking effect slowly"

For comparison: on Wednesday a week ago, the RKI had recorded 24,884 new infections and 331 new deaths within one day. Subsequent changes or additions to the RKI are possible. "The hope is that we can see a certain plateau formation here," said Gernot Marx, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, in a YouTube video on Thursday.

"That means that the emergency brake measures will hopefully seem to be taking effect slowly." In the intensive care units, however, the situation with over 5000 Covid patients nationwide is still very tense. A trend reversal can only be felt there with a time lag.

Careful optimism

The current data situation gives cause for cautious optimism, said the German Hospital Association on Wednesday. But that is not the all-clear with a view to the further development of the situation in the hospitals.

The numbers of new infections and Covid-19 patients signified encouraging developments, "which show that the population made its contribution to containing the pandemic even before the nationwide emergency brake came into force last Friday," says CEO Gerald Gaß. The situation gives reason to hope that the third wave will actually be broken.

"We continue to rely on the understanding and active participation of the citizens, but also on the effects of the vaccinations and the positive influence of the approaching summer," added Gaß. The consistent implementation of restrictions at high incidence values ​​could initiate the trend reversal.

These measures are causing the numbers to stagnate

Mobility researcher Kai Nagel from the Technical University of Berlin is also analyzing the stagnating number of infections. "At first the Easter holidays had a significant impact," he said German press agency. "Not only did the infections in schools cease to exist here, but many parents were also absent from work." There were probably significantly fewer contacts over the Easter holidays than had previously been feared. Good weather allows more leisure activities to take place outside.

In addition, there were quick test offers in individual regions before the nationwide emergency brake, also by employers and in schools, as well as a reduction in private contacts in the late evening hours. In Nagel's model for Berlin, such factors can lower the R-value - the average number of people infected by an infected person.

The capital is around 1, i.e. on the border that makes a pandemic manageable. “But there are many effects that are rather small in themselves, and it is therefore not possible for us to precisely assign causes and effects,” the scientist limits.

Perseverance on the last leg

According to the Accredited Laboratories in Medicine (ALM), the stagnation cannot be due to fewer PCR tests. In the 16th calendar week from April 19, they increased compared to the previous week - from around 1,174,745 to 1,231,477. The positive rate was 13.3 percent (previous week: 12.7 percent).

The ALM association asks all German citizens to persevere on the last leg of the Corona marathon and to take part in the protective measures: “It is a difficult phase for all of us. We shouldn't let up now ”, appealed the ALM chairman Michael Müller.

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