Germany faces COVID-19 winter wave

Germany faces a surge in COVID-19 cases this winter, according to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

Lauterbach made the prediction as he criticised four states’ plans to relax isolation rules for infected people.

Fearing that infection numbers could rise, Lauterbach said: “Then we would have an even stronger wave than we already fear and we are on the eve of a more infectious variant.”

The regional administrations of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein did not have the federal government’s approval, Lauterbach added on the side-lines of a parliamentary sitting.

Those states, home to around two fifths of the national population, announced in a joint statement earlier Friday that they planned to abolish the national five-day quarantine period, meaning that those who have tested positive but feel fine could leave their homes if they wear a mask.

The prediction from Germany comes as Covid-19 infections have fallen in all four UK countries for the first time in nearly three months, according to official figures, while the number of people hospitalised continues to fall.

“It is hugely encouraging that Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are still in decline across the UK. This goes to show how effective the vaccine programme continues to be and we thank everyone who has come forward for their latest vaccination so far,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency.