Germany keeps COVID restrictions as omicron infections soar

Jan 24, 2022, 12:58 AM | Updated: 1:18 pm

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Germany’s 16 state governors decided Monday to keep existing coronavirus restrictions in place and examine how best to use increasingly strained PCR test capacities as the highly contagious omicron variant fuels a steep rise in infections.

Germany has hit a series of daily infection records over the past two weeks as omicron has spread. On Monday, the national disease control center said 840.3 new cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded over the past week. The health minister has said he expects the numbers to peak in mid-February.

On Jan. 7, Scholz and the governors agreed to toughen requirements for entering restaurants and bars and decided to shorten quarantine and self-isolation periods.

Scholz said Germany’s relatively tough restrictions on private gatherings, large gatherings and other things helped delay until now the arrival of very high infection rates, “much later than in many neighboring countries; nevertheless these are very high infection figures, and so we must remain cautious and will stick to this course.” The leaders did not add new restrictions for now.

German health officials have advocated prioritizing the use of PCR tests for health care employees, older people and others particularly at risk as the omicron onslaught strains capacity. Scholz said the leaders asked the federal and state health ministers to produce a “strategy balanced out to the last detail to make possible a good oversight of infections.”

Although infections are rising fast, that hasn’t so far been accompanied by a big increase in hospital admissions. But officials worry that Germany has a high number of unvaccinated older people in comparison with some other European countries.

Scholz acknowledged that the pace of vaccination has eased off again after picking up last month, and announced a new campaign to pep up the campaign again. As of Monday, 73.4% of the population had been fully vaccinated and 50.4% also had received a booster shot.

German lawmakers are expected to hold a first debate Wednesday on a possible universal vaccination mandate, which Scholz supports but has left to parliament to design.

Berlin is seeing a particularly steep spike in COVID-19 cases at present — on Monday, the five districts with Germany’s highest infection rates were in the capital. The Mitte district, where the chancellery is located, topped the list with 2,842.9 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.

The city’s education minister, Astrid-Sabine Busse, announced Monday that Berlin students would no longer be obliged to attend school until the end of February, but that schools would be kept open for those students who still wanted to go there.

The decision came after Berlin public health officers said they would no longer conduct contact tracing or send immediate contacts of infected children into quarantine.

___

Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.

—-

Follow all AP stories on the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Wells Fargo, Carnival rise; CalAmp, Lending Tree fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Friday: Wells Fargo & Co., up $2.86 to $40.76. All the nation’s largest banks passed “stress tests” to determine whether they can withstand a severe economic downturn. FedEx Corp., up $16.26 to $243.24. The Memphis, Tennessee-based package delivery giant reported a big […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Friday 6/24/2022

Wall Street rallied on Friday, lifting the S&P 500 3.1% for its best gain in two years. The benchmark index also ended the week 6.4% higher, erasing the brutal loss it took a week earlier. It was just the second winning week for the S&P 500 in the last 12. Stocks climbed this week as […]
15 hours ago
This combination of photos shows actor Johnny Depp testifying at the Fairfax County Circuit Court i...
Associated Press

Judge makes jury’s $10.3M award official in Depp-Heard trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The judge in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial made a jury’s award official Friday with a written order for Heard to pay Depp $10.35 million for damaging his reputation by describing herself as a domestic abuse victim in an op-ed piece she wrote. Judge Penney Azcarate entered a judgment order […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks to reporters on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, amid the fallout...
Associated Press

After abortion ruling, critics renew blasts at Sen. Collins

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Sen. Susan Collins was blasted Friday for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as opponents targeted her votes to confirm two justices to the Supreme Court who were in the majority opinion allowing states to ban abortion. Critics of the Maine senator haven’t forgotten the key role she played in confirming […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Congress approves free student meal extension through summer

Congress passed a bill Friday that aims to keep up the expanded, pandemic-era distribution of free meals for all students this summer. Final passage of the Keep Kids Fed Act in the U.S. House came less than a week before rule changes for child nutrition programs were set to expire June 30. “Our action today […]
15 hours ago
Emergency personnel look over the sight of a  helicopter that crashed in Blair, W.Va., on Thursday,...
Associated Press

NTSB: West Virginia helicopter crashed on last flight of day

LOGAN, W.Va. (AP) — A helicopter that crashed during an annual reunion for helicopter enthusiasts was on its last planned flight of the day, a federal agency investigating the accident said Friday. The National Transportation Safety Board said all six people aboard — the pilot and five passengers, two of whom were pilot-rated — were […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Germany keeps COVID restrictions as omicron infections soar