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People's Daily Online

COVID-19 case count exceeds 30 mln in Germany

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 10:54, July 22, 2022

BERLIN, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Germany registered 136,624 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the total count to over 30 million cases. Thursday's figure was around 16,000 less than a week ago, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has said.

However, experts believe that the number of unreported cases is high due to less testing. Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach estimated in June that the actual number of cases was probably around double of those reported to authorities.

Germany stopped providing its citizens with free PCR testing at the end of June. The country's official COVID-19 figures only include positive PCR tests.

"I would have liked to (keep PCR testing) free, but we could no longer afford it," Lauterbach said.

The upward trend in COVID-19 infections is also reflected in sick leave figures. Within one month, the number of people unable to turn up for work almost doubled to 123 per 10,000 insured persons at the beginning of June, according to Barmer Ersatzkasse, one of Germany's largest public insurers.

By the end of 2021, one in ten adults in Germany had been infected with COVID-19, according to a study by the RKI. "This relatively low infection rate after a pandemic duration of around two years can be seen as a success of the measures taken to contain the pandemic," it said.

The study calls for "continued focus on improving protection against SARS-CoV-2 through more vaccination, especially with booster vaccines."

Of the 69.4 million adults in Germany aged 18 and older, around 85 percent are vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost three in four people have received one booster shot, while just over 9 percent have received two booster doses, according to official figures.

Germany's Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) currently only recommends a second COVID-19 booster shot to people over 70 years of age, residents in care facilities, people with immunodeficiency and medical staff.

STIKO did not support Lauterbach's suggestion to extend the recommendation to people under 60. "I think it is bad to make medical recommendations under the motto 'a lot helps a lot,'" Thomas Mertens, head of STIKO, said last week, adding that he was not aware of any data justifying such advice.

The president of the World Medical Association (WMA), Frank Ulrich Montgomery, on the other hand, agreed with Germany's health minister. "We should use every opportunity to improve the immunity of the population," he said.

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