Germany’s infection rate for the novel coronavirus has fallen significantly, with every patient now infecting less than one other person on average, the government’s agency for disease control and prevention said.
After this so-called reproduction number drops below one, an epidemic usually will slowly subside.
Germany is currently at 0.7, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said. This means that 10 coronavirus patients will only end up infecting seven other people – leading to a drop in the number of daily new infections.
But the RKI also cautioned that the projected number of cases among people over 80 years old is increasing particularly strongly, which will probably result in a “larger increase in the number of cases requiring hospitalization and intensive care.”
Its announcement late Thursday is likely to further fuel a debate in Germany about when its coronavirus-related restrictions on people’s movements and social contacts should be lifted.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday that the country’s nationwide lockdown will be extended until at least May 3, although restrictions will be loosened to allow smaller businesses and public places to reopen.
RKI president Lothar Wieler has warned that the reproduction number is not the only relevant fact that must be considered for a loosening of the restrictions, but also the share of the population that is immune and the capacities of Germany’s health system. (dpa/NAN)