Germany warns of ‘exponential’ virus spread


Coronavirus infection numbers in Germany are rising at a “very clearly exponential rate” as highly contagious variants drive up case numbers in the EU’s biggest country, health authorities said Friday.

“It is very possible that we will have a similar situation over Easter to the one we had before Christmas, with very high case numbers, many severe cases and deaths, and hospitals that are overwhelmed,” the vice president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Lars Schaade, told reporters.

The RKI on Friday reported 17,482 new infections in the previous 24 hours and 226 deaths in Germany, with the seven-day incidence rate soaring to 96 per 100,000 people despite a months-long shutdown of large swaths of public life.

The grim news came as Germany resumed administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 jabs after the European regulator EMA assessed it was “safe and effective” to use.

Amid a widely criticised sluggish vaccination campaign, Germany decided on Monday, along with most EU governments, to suspend use of the vaccine for the EMA to examine a handful of cases of cerebral vein thrombosis that emerged.

Doctors will now have to inform patients about the possible blood clotting risk before giving them the jabs.

Critics had complained that the decision to halt use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine over the last days only served to fuel mistrust over the jabs and further delay Germany’s inoculation programme.

By Thursday, only 3.8 percent of the German population was reported fully immunised.

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