RKI boss Wieler warns to be careful with openings

WA few days before the next federal-state round on corona policy, the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, urged great caution with possible opening steps. The citizens would have to be “still vigilant” when dealing with the pandemic, “otherwise we will steer into another, into a third wave,” said Wieler.

There is currently stagnation in the number of infections, they are not falling any further, he said. “We all want our everyday life back,” said Wieler. “We can only achieve this if we permanently reduce the number of cases.” The RKI President pointed out that there were indications of the first measurable positive effects of the vaccination campaign. The number of cases in the population group of over 80 years old is decreasing, said Wieler. “That is probably already an effect of the vaccinations.”

“It takes longer at the beginning, but it saves lives”

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) also pointed out this development at the joint press conference. In some federal states, the majority of those over 80 years old have already been vaccinated, he said. The incidence in this group has fallen from almost 200 cases per 100,000 people within seven days in February to now 70. This shows that the strategy for prioritizing older citizens in terms of vaccinations is working, the minister said. “It takes longer at the beginning, but it saves lives.”

Spahn also warned against too high hopes of easing the federal-state talks next Wednesday. There is “a need” to step out of lockdown, he said. However, this must be proceeded “cautiously” – and a comprehensive strategy is required: “Caution, vaccination, testing are three important components for our path.”

Wieler also warned against overestimating self-tests in the fight against pandemics. “Self-tests are not a silver bullet,” he said on Friday. The expectation that one could “test oneself” for certain situations cannot be fulfilled one hundred percent. A negative result is a snapshot and does not rule out an infection. “You can still be infected and infect others,” he emphasized. That is why it is important to continue to protect yourself and others by keeping your distance, wearing a mask, hygiene and ventilation. But rapid tests are a tool in containing the pandemic, said Wieler. It is positive that they would uncover more infections. “The most powerful tool besides ourselves are the vaccinations,” said Wieler. They are the direct, common way out of the pandemic.

The Robert Koch Institute registered 9997 new corona cases within 24 hours on Friday, 884 more than a week ago. The seven-day incidence rose to 62.6. The R value is also above one again.

A few days before the new federal-state consultations, Chancellor Angela Merkel had already dampened hopes for a very quick and comprehensive relaxation of the strict contact restrictions with the introduction of the corona self-tests. The Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder warned of the “opening rush”. The Chancellor and Prime Minister will discuss again on Wednesday.

The pressure from the economy is great, among other things, the trade is calling for the reopening of the inner cities not to be made dependent on an incidence of 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. Even freelancers are desperately hoping for a clear perspective: several federal states have already announced that, in addition to hairdressers’ shops, gardening markets and flower shops will be opened for the beginning of next week.

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