Local news translated – Oct 16, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Oct 16, 2023

Are “Voluntary 30 km/h” signs allowed on the Höri Peninsula?

The Administrative Court of Freiburg is hearing a case from the Höri Peninsula in the district of Konstanz. The issue at hand is whether residents are allowed to put up “Voluntary 30 km/h” signs.

The dispute over the “Voluntary 30 km/h” signs on the Höri Peninsula will be settled in court on Monday. The Administrative Court of Freiburg is deliberating whether residents are permitted to install the signs on their properties. The District Office of Konstanz had ordered the signs to be taken down.

In a conversation with SWR moderator Marion Kynaß, Jürgen Resch from the German Environmental Aid discusses the lawsuit and explains why he believes it is necessary: “Voluntary 30” is written on the signs, with running children depicted below. Residents had placed the signs along the heavily traveled state road on the Höri Peninsula. With this action, they aimed to slow down speeders on the local roads and thereby reduce noise. German Environmental Aid supports the lawsuits.

However, the District Office of Konstanz sees the signs as a violation of the road traffic regulations. Therefore, the authority ordered the signs to be removed last year and threatened with fines if not complied with.

Some residents filed a lawsuit against this. They receive support from the German Environmental Aid based in Radolfzell (district of Konstanz). The organization argues that the signs are clearly distinguishable from official traffic signs. With this model lawsuit, they aim to achieve a nationwide precedent (SWR 16 October 2023).


Variants, Vaccination, Measures: What you need to know about the cold season in relation to Corona.

As autumn arrives, so does Corona: The number of new infections is rising significantly in Baden-Württemberg as well. A new variant is spreading, and a new vaccine is ready. This is what’s important now.

Corona is once again on the rise in Baden-Württemberg. This is evident from the current figures of the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office. These show a clear increase in both the 7-day incidence and the number of people requiring intensive care treatment, especially in the past five weeks. Two new variants are also in circulation. This text addresses the key questions regarding the autumn, and the Eris and Pirola variants. What is the current situation in Baden-Württemberg?

The number of Corona infections has been increasing for several weeks. The current incidence rate in the state is 13.6 infections per 100,000 inhabitants (as of Thursday, October 12, 1 PM). However, due to limited PCR testing, the numbers may not be very informative, and the actual number of cases is likely much higher. Currently, 105 individuals with a Corona infection are reported to be in intensive care units in the state. However, this number does not specify if the infection is the reason for the intensive care treatment.

“As is the case every year, the cold season will begin in autumn, and with it, respiratory pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, will spread,” the Ministry of Social Affairs of Baden-Württemberg stated in response to an inquiry by SWR. However, the extent of the wave of respiratory diseases is currently unpredictable. Where can I find current numbers and statistics on the Corona situation in BW?

Since October 12, 2023, the Baden-Württemberg State Health Office publishes a weekly report on the current situation of acute respiratory diseases (ARE report) every Thursday, which also presents the reported data according to the Infection Protection Act (IfSG) related to Corona. This report clearly shows a significant increase in both new infections and patients in intensive care units in recent weeks. What new variants are there?

According to experts, in recent months, the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5 has become dominant in Germany. It is considered highly contagious, but does not cause more severe illnesses than other virus variants.

Two new virus variants are under increased surveillance: EG5 – also known as Eris – is believed to be more contagious based on current knowledge, but not more dangerous than previous variants. The new Corona variant BA.2.86, also known as Pirola, shows significantly more mutations.

The difference between the Pirola variant and previously known Corona variants is comparable to the mutation jump that occurred from Delta to Omicron. However, the initial concern that Pirola could be more dangerous than other variants has not proven to be true. What are the symptoms of the Pirola variant?

According to recent reports from British doctors, Pirola also causes unusual symptoms. Infection with this virus variant may, in addition to the usual Covid symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, and headache, also lead to skin rashes, red and sore fingers and toes, or itchy and red eyes. Affected individuals also report diarrhea as well as ulcers and swelling in the mouth and on the tongue.

Like Eris and the subvariant XBB.1.5, it belongs to the BA.2 lineage of the Coronavirus. According to experts, all of these variants also exhibit the classical symptoms. What are the typical symptoms of Corona?

Typical symptoms of an infection with the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 include cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, and disturbances of the sense of smell and/or taste. Additional symptoms may include shortness of breath, headaches, body aches, general weakness, swollen lymph nodes, rash, conjunctivitis, or gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

The course of COVID-19 is often nonspecific, diverse, and varies widely. Therefore, no general statements can be made about the typical course of COVID-19 – as the symptoms of the Pirola variant also show. Most COVID-19 courses are rather mild, resulting in mild symptoms. However, severe courses of the disease and complications in various organ systems are also possible. When is the currently adapted Corona vaccine available?

Since mid-September 2023, the new vaccine from Biontech/Pfizer against the current Corona variants has been available. According to the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, adapted vaccines for infants and for children between five and eleven years old are also available. According to the Federal Ministry of Health, 14 million vaccine doses will be available for the entire Germany for the winter season. What is the new vaccine?

The new vaccine, according to the manufacturer BioNTech, is adapted to the subvariant XBB.1.5 and is also effective against the new variant EG.5. There is an important difference compared to the adapted agent from the previous year: the vials now contain only the new agent. Previously, it was still a combination with the original vaccination.

The European Commission has also now approved an adapted vaccine from the US pharmaceutical company Moderna. The approval followed a strict evaluation of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). An adapted vaccine for the XBB.1.5 variant from the manufacturer Novavax is also expected.

A spokesperson from the Federal Ministry of Health explained that – contrary to what has been reported in the media – there will still be a choice between different providers, and not only the BioNTech vaccine will be supplied and paid for. Who should get vaccinated against Corona?

The Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends that high-risk groups be vaccinated against the Coronavirus. This includes individuals aged 60 and older, individuals aged 6 months and older who are at increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 due to an underlying condition, residents in long-term care facilities, and individuals with an elevated risk of a severe course of the disease in facilities for integration support. Flu and Corona vaccination in one go?

Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Health, Manfred Lucha (Greens), called on people over the weekend to get vaccinated against both the flu and Corona at the beginning of the cold season. The STIKO also sees no problem in getting vaccinated against both diseases at once. However, the Mainz virologist Bodo Plachter points out that people react very differently to vaccinations individually. Some tolerate them very well, and some not so well. The important thing is to think about vaccination in time so that you are prepared for a possible flu wave. Are there Corona measures in autumn and winter 2023/24?

Since March 1, 2023, Baden-Württemberg has lifted all state-level Corona regulations. As of April 8, 2023, the mask mandates still in effect under federal law have also been dropped. Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Health, Manfred Lucha (Greens), rules out further Corona measures. He promised that there will be no measures in the coming winter. However, he hopes for the common sense and cooperation of the population. How can I protect myself from Corona?

To protect yourself from a Coronavirus infection, there are several measures you can take:

Getting vaccinated: Vaccination is the best protection against a severe COVID-19 infection. The Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends a booster shot for all individuals over 60, as well as those with a chronic illness or weakened immune system.

Hygiene measures: Regular handwashing, maintaining distance, and wearing masks in enclosed spaces or in crowded gatherings can help minimize the risk of infection.

Ventilation: Regularly airing indoor spaces can also help reduce the risk of infection (SWR 15 October 2023).


Several hundred participants at the pro-Israel demonstration in Stuttgart.

The people of Stuttgart showed a visible sign of solidarity for Israel on Saturday. Approximately 700 people gathered at the demonstration to strongly condemn the attack by the terrorist organization Hamas.

During a solidarity rally for Israel in Stuttgart on Saturday, around 700 people protested against the attack by the terrorist organization Hamas. Michael Kashi from the Israelite Religious Community of Württemberg, for example, reminded the audience of the 260 young people who were celebrating in a camp and were all killed.

He said he hadn’t seen anything like it since the Nazis murdered the Jews. He emphasized that Israel must finally crush Hamas. According to police reports, the rally proceeded peacefully. The organizers had initially expected over a thousand participants; possibly fewer people attended due to intermittently bad weather. The German branch of the “International Christian Embassy Jerusalem” had called for the rally.

A scheduled pro-Palestinian demonstration in Stuttgart was canceled by the organizers on Friday. However, a group of about 200 Palestine supporters still gathered in the city center on Saturday, as a police spokesperson stated. They were assigned a new assembly point (SWR 14 October 2023).