Coronavirus second wave: Will Germany need a second lockdown as R number rises?

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Germany’s coronavirus R rates skyrocketed on Sunday, according to scientists, with a pattern of local outbreaks prompting second wave fears. The country was one of the first to slightly relax its coronavirus restrictions, starting with an announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel in April. She stressed the federal government would have a hold over national coronavirus response, but states would have primary control of their actions.

How will Germany tackle coronavirus R number rise?

Germany’s R number has nearly tripled in the last three days.

On Friday last week, the Robert Koch Institute for public health (RKI), responsible for handling daily case estimations, published an R number of 1.06.

By Sunday, the four-day average was 2.88, meaning in every 100 infections, another 288 people will later become infected.


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The rising infection rate is clearly concerning for Germany, which started reopening its economy in April, but how to deal with it falls to select states.

In May, Angela Merkel slightly decentralised the coronavirus response.

Currently, each of the country’s 16 states may decide how they proceed, as the Chancellor reserves the right to apply an “emergency brake” should the situations develop further.

So far, authorities have called on the help of police to enforce a quarantine in affected areas.

RKI found outbreaks in a range of settings, including nursing homes and hospitals, where people might be particularly vulnerable to the disease.

One notable pocket of infections emerged in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, where hundreds of abattoir workers tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Toennies, one of the biggest German meat processors, said it had spearheaded a staged shutdown of their operations on Wednesday.

Of 1,000 workers tested at the locations, a total of 657 positive results emerged.

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Armin Laschet, premier of North Rhine Westphalia, said he had called in consular officials from Romania, Poland and Bulgaria to help convince factory workers to comply with lockdown rules.

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “There are 1,300 properties where staff and their families live, and where we need to observe the quarantine rules.

“We need to explain to people that if they are infected they should not seek to return to their home countries.

“Their best chance is to stay in Germany where they will get the best healthcare.”

German officials had recently announced they would further scale back coronavirus measures to reinstitute travel.

They lifted restrictions on travel to European countries on June 15, three months after imposing them.

Those restrictions applied to other EU nations, Schengen area countries, and the UK.

However, German foreign minister Heiko Maas advised against travel to Britain “so long as there is still an obligatory 14-day quarantine for everyone arriving there”.

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