Local news translated – Friday, Feb 12, 2021

Germany is currently under strict lockdown restrictions, which include curfews.
Click here for details on how the Baden-Württemberg ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.

Daily Host Nation Update, Feb 12, 2021


RKI reports 556 more fatalities
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) counts 9860 newly reported infections and 556 newly registered deaths. On Friday last week, the RKI had recorded 12,908 fresh cases and 855 more deaths. The total number of Sars-CoV-2-related deaths rose to 64,191, according to the RKI, which estimates that over 2.1 million people are now considered to have recovered.(Robert Koch Institute, February 12)

Corona rapid tests for home use
“We are ready.” This is how the Baden-Württemberg State Chamber of Pharmacists clearly states it. “As yet, Corona rapid tests can only be carried out by specialist staff, but we expect approval for self-tests to be granted soon,” says spokeswoman Katina Lindmayer. Currently, the list of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) includes about 168 products that can be considered as rapid tests for anyone and meet the minimum requirements of the authorities.

Normally, CE certification is the standard route for newly developed medical devices to enter the European market. However, if there is time pressure – as in the current pandemic – and it is not possible for the CE certification bodies to process the application quickly, the Federal Institute in Bonn can also issue temporary approvals limited to Germany. “We can provide a transitional solution, so to speak, until actual CE certification,” says spokesman Maik Pommer. (Canstatter Zeitung, February 11)

RKI expects mutation incidence to rise
The Robert Koch Institute continues to see a risk that more contagious viral mutations will complicate the fight against the pandemic. “I expect an increase, clearly,” says RKI President Lothar Wieler. “We have to at least slow down the spread of the variants. We need to prevent new variants of concern from emerging.” He said the variants that are already known are more contagious and are also spreading in Germany. New data on this is expected in the coming week, he said. (Robert Koch Institute, February 12)

Does Germany not test enough?
Only Germany and Bulgaria do not generally test everyone in Europe for Covid-19 who show symptoms. Thus, many infections may remain undetected even though laboratory capacity is underutilized and the reason for the restriction has actually been eliminated.

In Germany, the national testing strategy was amended accordingly on Nov. 3. The reason made sense at the time. After all, in late fall, more tests were performed than ever before in the Corona crisis, with around 1.6 million tests performed each week. Participating labs were working at capacity and could no longer evaluate many samples in a timely manner. By the time the change went into effect, the backlog had grown to more than 23,000 unprocessed tests. To prevent the problem from growing by testing people with harmless infections, the federal government removed cold symptoms as test eligibility.

The danger that tests based on harmless colds could overload laboratories no longer seems to exist. So Germany could – or would have to – bring its testing strategy back into line with the rest of Europe, where testing is done for all symptoms or even without signs of illness. Italy, Great Britain and France show that this also works in highly populated countries. According to “Our World in Data,” the neighboring country currently conducts an average of 4.9 tests per 1,000 inhabitants over a seven-day period, compared with just 1.9 in Germany. Italy conducts 4.0 tests, and the UK even 9.8. (Ntv, February 12)

Corona in worldwide decline
In Germany, the number of newly reported Corona cases continues to fall. But not only in this country – largely unnoticed by the public, the number of cases worldwide is declining, and in some cases massively. The current situation report of the World Health Organization WHO confirms: For the fourth week in a row, the number of newly reported cases worldwide has fallen. The pandemic peaked at the beginning of January with almost five million new infections in one week. At the beginning of February, there were only around three million – almost 40 percent fewer. Although case numbers are still rising in many countries, the trend is “encouraging” at a global level, the WHO report says.

In absolute terms, the number of cases is falling, especially in Europe and North and South America, and on a weekly basis, the number of new infections has fallen by almost half a million. Most of the decline is in the U.S., where nearly 200,000 fewer cases were reported. But the phenomenon is not limited to these continents: Five of the six WHO regions recently recorded a decline in new Corona cases of more than 10 percent per week. The number of newly reported deaths also fell for the second week in a row, according to WHO. The latest figure of 88,000 newly reported deaths was down about 10 percent from the previous week. (Focus, February 11)

Bundestag to make new decisions on “epidemic situation” on a regular basis
The special corona powers of the federal government are to be fundamentally examined in the future – in an “external scientific evaluation of the regulatory totality on the epidemic situation of national significance,” as it says in a bill of the grand coalition. The Ministry of Health is to commission the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina with this task. In addition, the bill stipulates that in the future the Bundestag must newly determine an “epidemic situation of national significance” at least every three months in order to grant the federal government special powers.( Ntv, February 12)

Sindelfingen: No International Street Festival in 2021
Due to the still tense situation of the Corona pandemic, major events cannot be planned until further notice. The association “Internationales Straßenfest Sindelfingen e.V.” and the city administration of Sindelfingen have therefore decided to cancel the regular date in June this year. Depending on the pandemic situation, a smaller variant in late summer will be considered. (bbheute, February 11)

Corona mutation in nursing home
In 39 of 48 nursing homes in the Böblingen district, they have completed the initial vaccinations of residents and staff. Since an outbreak with the British Corona mutation was detected at the Haus an der Schwippe in Darmsheim, the second vaccination had to be postponed. It also postponed the start of vaccination at the Sonnenhalde home because of infections.

Meanwhile, 19 of 43 home residents and seven staff members at Haus an der Schwippe in Darmsheim tested positive for the coronavirus. Among them, cases with the British mutation B.1.1.7, which is considered particularly contagious, have also been detected. “The infections are mild to moderately severe,” says Simone Eckstein, managing director of the Sindelfingen-based Diakonieverein. (bbheute,February 11)

Vaccination schedule: 5.7 million Germans top priority based on the age
Nearly three-quarters of the German population does not fall within the age-based prioritization for Corona vaccinations. According to the Federal Statistical Office, 59.4 million people were younger than 60 at last count and thus not eligible for age-related priority vaccination under the vaccination schedule. That is 71.5 percent of the population. Accordingly, 5.7 million people in Germany aged 80 or older fall into the highest priority group.(Ntv, February 12)

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