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Germany in the race against omicron | Coronavirus | DW

Shortly after Christmas, the popular Alexa shopping center in Berlin’s Mitte district is already full of families, groups of friends and onlookers everywhere. The desire to exchange gifts could be one of the reasons for the pulsating world of consumption; vaccination, another.

It is estimated that the queue in front of the vaccination center, on the first floor, reaches 50 meters in the morning. Many spend the waiting time filling out the forms. However, you must go early to get inside.

The German government just celebrated meeting its self-imposed vaccination target of 30 million doses between November and the end of the year. But the double vaccination rate continues to rise very slowly. In the last four weeks, it has risen two and a half points to almost 71%. Many of the doses administered are booster vaccines, that is, they are already third vaccines. During the Christmas holidays, when he was also vaccinated, the booster doses were between 75% and 80%. In total, just under 175,000 doses were injected.

Could go faster

Especially in the provinces, vaccination remains a challenge for many. For example, in Calau, a city of 7,700 inhabitants in southern Brandenburg, where the vaccination rate is comparatively low and the wave of the delta variant is strong. A vaccination bus runs once a week. But that means standing in line in the cold of winter. While appointments with the family doctor are available only from the beginning of February. Other options in the city? No way! In this scenario, many older adults fear contracting the virus.

Row to get vaccinated in Stuttgart.

The next president of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Karin Prien, is planning easier vaccination options. The Schleswig-Holstein Minister of Education reported good experiences with vaccinations carried out in local schools. 70% of 12-17 year olds in your state have already been vaccinated at least once. Today this percentage is by far the highest in Germany for schoolchildren in this age group.

Anniversary: ​​a year of vaccines against coronavirus

December 27 marked one year since the start of vaccination in Germany. Since then, nearly 147 million doses have been administered. Centennial “Oma Edith” from Saxony-Anhalt was the first to receive the vaccine at that time. Some media outlets reported that the grandmother never regretted it and tolerated the process well.

Germany is now trying to vaccinate as many people as possible before the arrival of the wave of the omicron variant that many experts expect. According to the federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, the goal is to prevent as many serious cases of the disease as possible.

Currently, the number of new infections is decreasing. The incidence is 215 – a month ago, the figure was 484. But this could also be because, due to the holidays, fewer people were tested, went to the doctor or were notified on time. Traditionally, the period from Christmas to New Year is considered a holiday season, so the Robert Koch Institute, responsible for issues related to the pandemic, warns that the figure is not entirely true.

Ómicron enters the scene

The Institute has recently started publishing the number of known cases of omicron. As of December 28, there are 10,443 cases. From one day to the next the increase in cases exceeds 3,000, which represents an increase of 45%. Many experts expect the number of cases to double in two to three days. Cases of the omicron variant still represent “only” 1.5% of the current total, most of them currently in North Rhine-Westphalia.

However, keeping a daily record of omicron spread is difficult for technical reasons. Following a positive PCR test, which takes one day to produce results, a specific PCR test is performed immediately to determine the variant. This, according to the president of the German Professional Association of Laboratory Physicians, Andreas Bobrowksi, requires three or four more days.

No celebrations for New Years

Since December 28, three days before New Year’s Eve, stricter contact rules began to apply throughout the country. In short: no more than ten people can meet in a house. If people are not vaccinated, the maximum drops to two people gathered. Discos and clubs are closed and in some places there are curfews for restaurants.

Germany Berlin |  Burned down fireworks and glass bottles

Fireworks and firecrackers are banned this end of the year in Germany.

For New Year’s Eve, a day that is traditionally celebrated with a lot of fireworks in Germany, the sale of fireworks has been banned, as it already happened in 2020. Fireworks displays have also been canceled in many places. These measures are intended to potentially relieve hospitals, because many accidents caused by firecrackers often occur on this date.

When will vaccination be mandatory?

From a political point of view, things will continue as they are. On January 7th, Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet again with the heads of the federal states. In the first week of the Bundestag session, which begins on January 10, the debate on mandatory vaccination will begin. There are still many unanswered questions: for example, after how long will booster shots be needed. Or the question of how the data should actually be managed and how to find out who has been vaccinated so far and how often. So far there is no central vaccination registry. Should it be introduced or should the police monitor vaccination only with random checks?

After the turn of the year, the Christmas holidays end in many federal states. Schools are reopening and there are no plans to close schools as an emergency measure. Nor is the possibility of classes being taught via the internet a matter of discussion, which obviously can happen if the numbers increase sharply as suspected. Already in the wave of the delta variant, many schools had to close anyway.

(mn / er)

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