Coronavirus infections in Germany spike again as lockdown is eased

As the lockdown in Germany loosened, public health officials reported that coronavirus cases in the country have rapidly increased.

The Robert Koch Institute, which is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Germany, has claimed that the ‘R’ number, or the effective reproduction number, has risen to 1.1, as Independent reveals.

If this data is accurate, it indicates that the number of coronavirus infections is currently increasing, rather than falling. Therefore, the outbreak might spiral out of control once more due to the easing of the lockdown restrictions.

The ‘R’ number also indicates whether a certain country has successfully flattened the curve. If it remains below 1, then the number tends towards the end of the outbreak.

Germany has begun lifting its quarantine restrictions on April 20, when the country’s R number was 0.7. Unfortunately, by the middle of last week, the number increased to 0.96.

Image credits: Worldometers

However, the Robert Koch Institute notes there might be a ‘degree of uncertainty’ about the real value of this indicator. They claim:

“Due to statistical fluctuations, which are amplified by the overall lower number of cases, it is therefore still not possible to assess whether the decreasing trend in the number of incident cases observed over the past few weeks will continue or whether case numbers will again increase. The increase in the reproduction number R makes it necessary to observe the development very closely over the coming days.”

On Saturday, May 9, the day that Europe celebrates peace and equity, there were nearly a thousand new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany. By May 11, the total COVID-19 cases in the country are 171,879, with 7,569 deaths.

Image credits: Worldometers

The increase in the people infected with the virus comes after chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states decided to ease the restrictions, allowing restaurants, hotels, and shops to reopen.

Moreover, on May 11, schools are about to reopen as well. Besides, despite the number of professional football players testing positive for COVID-19,  the country’s football league will resume in only a week.

Concerns have been raised as Karl Lauterbach, a Social Democrat lawmaker and professor of epidemiology, warned about a second coronavirus outbreak. In a tweet, Lauterbach forecasts that the virus may spike again, according to what he saw in his hometown, Cologne.

“The R value is expected to go above 1 again and we will return to exponential growth. That corresponds to EVERYTHING I saw in Cologne today. The loosening measures have been poorly prepared.”

In a few follow-up tweets, the democrat criticizes the early lift of the strict lockdown restrictions in the country. He notes that if the R number remains above 1, the government needs to imply a new strategy for handling the novel virus.

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