Daily Host Nation Update January 4, 2021
Germany is currently under strict lockdown restrictions (to include curfews) until January 10.
Click here for details on how the Baden-Württemberg ordinance impacts the USAG Stuttgart community.
RKI records 302 new corona fatalities in Germany
German public health departments have reported 9,847 new Corona infections to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within one day. In addition, 302 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours, the RKI announced. Interpretation of the data remains difficult because of delays in the detection, recording and transmission of Corona cases around Christmas and the New Year, according to the RKI. The RKI counts 1,775,513 confirmed infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Germany since the pandemic began (as of Jan. 4, 0 a.m.). The total number of people who have died from or with involvement of a confirmed infection with Sars-CoV-2 increased to 34,574. (Robert Koch Institute, January 4)
Health expert calls for indefinite lockdown
Karl Lauterbach, a scientist and politician of the Social Democratic Party calls for a “consistent” and indefinite lockdown. “We must reduce new infections more significantly than previously planned,” he told the “Passauer Neue Presse” newspaper. “An incidence value of 50 is not enough, because in the future we will probably have to deal with a virus variant that is much more infectious than the one that has been spread in Germany so far.” The rate of new infections per 100,000 population in seven days must be reduced to 25, he said. On Sunday, the rate in Germany was 139.6. (Ntv, January 4)
Close to 265,000 people vaccinated in Germany
The total number of people vaccinated in Germany has risen to 264,952, according to the Robert Koch Institute. As of 12 noon, another 22,200 people were reported vaccinated compared to the previous day, the RKI reported. The state of Brandenburg, however, has not yet reported its figures from Sunday. The numbers also change due to subsequent reports of the states. (Robert Koch Institute, January 4)
Wave of bankruptcies in the retail sector
The German retail association is warning of a wave of bankrupticies in the German retail sector. Many companies affected by the double lockdown “have largely used up their equity and now need economic support,” stresses the HDE. Otherwise, it said, up to 50,000 stores with more than 250,000 employees face the prospect of going out of business. “For many retailers, it’s already close to twelve,” says HDE CEO Stefan Genth. In a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel, HDE calls for a perspective for the retail sector and for government support to be adjusted. (Ntv, January 4)
What the Corona Mutation Means for Germany’s Corona Strategy
A mutation in Sars-CoV-2, has apparently made the virus more easily transmissible. One variant, B.1.1.7, was initially detected in the UK and has since been confirmed in several other countries – including Germany. In addition, South Africa reported another variant, 501Y.V2, in mid-December. Although the two variants are genetically similar, they have arisen independently of each other, according to the World Health Organization. It is not entirely clear how widespread the B.1.1.7 variant already is in this country. So far, only isolated cases of B.1.1.7 have been reported in Germany, for example in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. However, the Robert Koch Institute expects that more cases will be added. Experts do not currently assume that the Corona vaccines approved to date are less effective against the two variants – although it cannot be ruled out that such pathogens could still develop. A more severe course of disease caused by B.1.1.7 is also not assumed. (Welt, January 4)
Austria lockdown to be extended
According to government sources, the lockdown in Austria, which was planned to last until January 18, will be extended. As the originally planned free testing does not seem possible due to opposition resistance, the closure of almost all stores will now last until January 24 for everyone, Austrian news agency APA reports. The original plan was that all those who took a Corona test would be allowed to go into the stores that reopened from January 18. For those without a test, an extended lockdown was to apply until Jan. 24. The measure also affects restaurants, many services and tourism. (Welt, January 4)
Parents’ council against quick return to regular school schedule
In view of the increasingly likely extension of the lockdown, the number of opponents of a rapid return of students to schools is growing. For infection control reasons, it is not justifiable for elementary school students to return to regular school as of January 11, Silke Pantel of the state parents’ council told the German Press Agency in Stuttgart. A requirement for such a return would have to be a mask obligation also for the younger classes. In addition, it would only work in alternating classes, in order to be able to implement the distance requirement. The president of the German Teachers’ Association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, pleaded in the “Passauer Neue Presse” for an extension of the restricted attendance mode by three more weeks until the end of January. Priority should be given to bringing elementary school children, students in the lower grades and students in the final grades back into the alternating operation. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, January 4)
Non Corona News
Baden-Württemberger fails to collect million-dollar winnings
The previously unknown lucky winner had been wanted since the draw in April 2017. Despite regular calls, however, no one had come forward. There has never been an unclaimed prize of this amount in the southwest, Lotto GmbH announced. Lucky winners usually claimed their million-dollar winnings after a few days. Lotto successes become time-barred three years after expiration of the calendar year, in which one played. The wanted lottery player had taken part in the lottery draws on Wednesday, March 29, and Saturday, April 1, 2017. The winning ticket was purchased at a lottery retail outlet in the Reutlingen area. The prize – exactly 11,300,368 euros – would be completely tax-free. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, January 4)
Over-crowding in the Black Forest and Swabian Alb
Once again, numerous people in their cars have flooded into the excursion areas in the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb in Baden-Württemberg. Traffic jams and overcrowded parking lots were the result. On the Black Forest high road, the cars were already jammed in the morning on Sunday, as a spokesman for the Offenburg police headquarters said.
Police officers appealed to drivers via the traffic radio and on the spot on the roads to avoid crowded areas. When there were closures, motorists showed understanding and turned back, police said. But despite the appeals, traffic jams formed again on Sunday and overcrowded parking lots caused frustration, they said.
The Swabian Alb also attracted many winter excursionists due to its altitude. All parking spaces on the Alb plateau were occupied, said a spokesman for the Reutlingen police headquarters on Sunday. Especially the fresh snow had again attracted more people to the Alb than on Saturday.
Due to the ongoing lockdown to contain the Corona pandemic with curfew restrictions and closed restaurants and cafes, people are increasingly drawn outdoors. Traffic jams and crowded parking lots have already occurred several times, especially over the Christmas holiday. Police in several other states also reported increased pressure from people seeking recreation over the weekend. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, January 4)