Debate about corona rules: it is getting full again in the intensive care units

AOn the weekend, the symbolic threshold of 1,000 patients was exceeded again. For the first time since mid-June, a four-digit number of Covid-19 patients had to be treated in the intensive care units of German hospitals. According to the intensive care register of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, 56 people were affected within one day, the number of all seriously ill corona patients rose to 1008. The nationwide incidence rose on Sunday according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to 74.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within one week; Within one day, 8,416 new infections were on record. The figures show that despite the progress made in the vaccination campaign – just over 60 percent of citizens are now considered fully vaccinated – there is still a connection between the number of infections and the occupancy rate in hospitals.

New study results show that the emergence of the now dominant delta variant is not helpful in this calculation. So far, scientists had assumed that Delta is primarily more contagious than the previously widespread alpha variant of the virus. But it is obviously also much more dangerous. Accordingly, the risk of hospitalization for infection with the Delta variant is about twice as high as with Alpha. This is what researchers from Cambridge University and the Public Health England agency found out in a study of more than 40,000 corona cases in England between the end of March and the end of May this year. The results, which were published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, say something above all about the risk for the unvaccinated. The data do not allow any conclusions to be drawn for fully vaccinated persons.

What follows from this for the approximately 33 million people in Germany who currently have only limited or no vaccination protection? The SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach campaigned on Sunday for a much more level-headed approach to the virus. Lauterbach praised the so-called 2G model that Hamburg has been testing since this weekend. It stipulates that restaurants and event venues that take part in the trial will only allow people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered. A negative test is then not enough, there are significantly fewer precautionary measures inside.

According to Lauterbach, the regulation should apply everywhere in the country. “The danger is great in clubs, bars and restaurants,” he told the FAZ. This applies to all places where many people speak loudly to one another when there is insufficient ventilation. If a person is contagious, it is “almost guaranteed” that others will also be infected with the virus. Lauterbach spoke out against extending the 2G rules to the private sector or the workplace. That was “not feasible and not controllable,” he said.

The Chancellor candidate of the Greens also spoke out in favor of the Hamburg 2G model at the weekend. Annalena Baerbock advocated that those who had been vaccinated and those who had recovered should be given more freedom than those who had not been vaccinated. If someone is not in solidarity with children or the chronically ill, “then he or she cannot expect everyone else to forego their freedom,” Baerbock told the newspapers of the Funke media group. She therefore thinks it is right to give those who have been vaccinated or recovered more freedom “like Hamburg is doing now”. This also increases the incentive to get vaccinated. One should not let up now in the vaccination campaign, “especially to protect children”.

The FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann, on the other hand, was critical of 2G. “I think very highly of the 3G rules,” said Ullmann of the FAZ. By also taking negative tests into account, the risk of infection can be minimized. In any case, from a scientific point of view, those who have been tested are to be equated with those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered. “It should be kept that way.” The more restrictive 2G model only builds pressure on unvaccinated people, which he rejects. “If the government parties demand the vaccination, they should speak out in favor of mandatory vaccination,” said Ullmann. But he was against such a duty.

It remained unclear on Sunday what will become of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (CDU )’s proposal to also introduce the 3G rules for long-distance Deutsche Bahn traffic. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed on Friday that the federal government was examining a 3G rule for long-distance trains in the fight against the pandemic. Everything must be done to contain the high number of corona cases, said Seibert as a justification. The Bild newspaper reported on Sunday that there was resistance in the grand coalition to follow the plan. According to this, several ministries are said to have spoken out against the plan. The Federal Ministry of Transport commissioned with the examination did not want to comment on the report on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health from Jens Spahn (CDU) is working on replacing the incidence as an indicator of the pandemic. It is already clear that the regional occupancy of the hospitals will play an important role in the future. The board of directors of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Eugen Brysch, campaigned on Sunday that the limit values, from which there should be restrictions, are the same nationwide. Brysch told the German Press Agency that many people are tired of the fact that different regulations apply in different regions with the same situation. “That is why it would be wrong to leave the determination of a guide number to the clinics or the respective countries alone.”

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