The head of a German doctors union warns that new Covid-19 cases in the country are on the rise as people increasingly neglect social distancing measures.
Germany is already experiencing its second coronavirus wave, and could face an even stronger resurgence as many people ignore social distancing measures, the German doctor's union warned on Tuesday.
"We are already in a second, shallow upswing," Susanne Johna, the president of Marburger Bund, which represents doctors in Germany, told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
The daily number of confirmed cases has increased in recent weeks, with health experts warning that loose adherence to hygiene and social distancing rules could spur a widespread wave of new infections.
Read more: Is the second coronavirus wave already here?
Johna warned that there was a danger that a longing to return to normality and subsequent negligence in following preventive measures would push Germany backwards in terms of the progress that was made during the initial wave.
"There is a danger that we will lose the successes that we have achieved in Germany so far in a combination of repression and longing for normality," said Johna. "We all long for normality. But we are in a state that is not normal."
The second wave is not comparable to the first, she added.
As long as there are no drugs to treat COVID-19, the spread of the virus must be curbed, she said. This can only be achieved through the use of social distancing, hygiene measures, wearing masks every day and implementing local quarantines, she said.
She also emphasized the danger of the virus, in her calls to adhere to social distancing measures. "Many people in Germany have already died from coronavirus," she said.
"It's not just a matter of life and death. "Many people will be left with permanent damage. They will be limited in their everyday lives because their lungs or kidneys are no longer working so well. Incidentally, this also applies to younger patients. "
A well-prepared health care system
Germany has so far managed the pandemic with far fewer deaths than its neighbors France and Italy, due to widespread testing and a strong health care system.
Johna said that hospitals were prepared and would make intensive care beds available to COVID-19 patients on a staggered basis, while gradually reducing the number of planned admissions to normal wards.
According to official figures, there are almost 21,000 intensive care beds in Germany, of which 12,200 are currently free. As of Monday, there were 270 coronavirus patients in intensive care, of whom 130 were on ventilators.
Germany has recorded over 212,000 cases and more than 9,000 deaths. The number of confirmed cases rose by 879 on Tuesday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.