Germany’s infection rate stayed above 1 for the third day in a row, the country’s center for disease control announced on Monday.
The latest numbers from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) came on the same morning lockdown measures were being significantly relaxed across the country.
The RKI said that the coronavirus reproduction rate in Germany is now 1.07, down slightly from 1.13 the day before. It was 0.83 on Friday and 1.1 on Saturday.
That rate, which assumes statistical lag in data delivered, is the key measure used by the RKI, which is leading Germany’s scientific overview of the pandemic.
Monday's figure meant that every patient is infecting at least one other. The rise made it necessary to "watch the development very carefully in the next days," said the RKI.
Merkel urges public to stick to rules
Speaking on Monday in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that although Germany was entering a "new phase" with its COVID-19 response, "it's important that with all of the loosening of the measures that we really have certainty that people are keeping to basic rules."
Last Wednesday, as Merkel and state premiers announced the easing of social distancing coupled with wearing masks, the rate was 0.65. When making the announcement, she said that if any communities saw a rise of 50 or more cases per 100,000 people, towns or cities would have to reimpose lockdowns. The possibility of a second national lockdown is off the table as of now, she said.
Germany's overall figures for Monday documented 169,575 confirmed cases of infection (1,275 more than Friday), 7,414 deaths since early March, and 145,600 persons declared recovered.
Again topping infection data were Germany's southern states Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria and the northern city-state of Hamburg.
Restaurants, museums reopening
On Monday, Germany's 16 states rolled back further COVID-19 restrictions — although the news rules depend on the region.
Restaurants have reopened for locals in the western states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), albeit under strict rules that separate guests by at least 1.5 meters (5 feet).
Museums and art galleries were allowed to open their doors again in Hamburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Lower Saxony.
In NRW, the northwestern state of Schleswig-Holstein, the northeastern state of Brandenburg and the southern state of Bavaria, residents are now once again allowed to meet in public with people from a different household. People in Bavaria can also meet with family members who don't live in their home provided they are directly related (i.e. children, parents, siblings).
In Berlin and the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, massage studios, nail parlors and tattoo studios as well as other "physically-close services" can now reopen under strict regulations.
In the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, visitors are once again permitted in retirement homes and senior care facilities. Residents are permitted an hour-long visit with one visitor per day, as long as that person wears a mask.
Conspiracy theorists promote dangerous protests
Warning that COVID-19 remained a potentially fatal infection, the RKI said patients occupied 19,732 beds — 1,650 in intensive care — with another 12,096 beds ready in reserve at 1,226 clinics across the nation.
Unpersuaded, several thousand people protested in major German cities Saturday, including conspiracy theorists prominent on social media. Government officials have called on citizens to be wary of the plethora of false information circulating on the internet, such as the idea that 5G digital networks are behind the spread of the virus, or that the lockdown measures were designed to curtail democratic freedoms.
An Infratest/dimap survey released midweek showed that 67% of respondents across Germany were 'satisfied' to 'very satisfied' with the federal response to the pandemic — despite fears of becoming infected and losing jobs.
rs,es, ipj/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)