GERMANY appears to be avoiding a second coronavirus wave as infection rates drop to record low levels despite lifting lockdown.
The country began easing restrictions around two weeks ago, allowing some shops to again welcome customers after faring better than its European neighbours as a result of an aggressive policy of mass testing.
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And it edged closer to normality this week, allowing some kids to go back to school, with museums, hairdressers, churches and more car factories reopening.
The increased freedoms have led to fears Germany could see a second wave of coronavirus cases which could see restrictions brought back.
But the rate of new infections continues to plunge, the government-funded Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced yesterday.
The reproduction number, or “R” — the average number of people each person with the virus infects — is close to its lowest recorded level, at 0.71.
Prof Lothar Wieler, the head of the RKI said: “The rate of transmitted infections continues to fall. This is very good news.”
The figures are the first to include reliable data on new infections since Germany began to lift its lockdown two weeks ago, the Telegraph reports.
New infections take time to develop, with many people not showing any symptoms for up to a fortnight, so there’s a lag of 10-14 days before they are reflected in the figures, scientists say.
Germany has withstood the pandemic much better than the US, Britain and Italy, partly thanks to widespread virus testing, an excellent healthcare system and strict lockdown measures introduced early in mid-March.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has increased by 947 to 164,807 – keeping it below 1,000 since May 1.
The reported death toll also rose by 165 to 6,996.
The daily increase has stayed below 200 since April 23.
‘SECOND WAVE COMING’
But Prof Wieler urged Germans not to start celebrating just yet.
He said: “We know there will probably be a second wave.
“The majority of scientists agree on this and many believe there will also be a third wave.”
The latest figures came as Germany’s regional governments announced plans to ease restrictions further.
Germany’s federal government and 16 states have agreed all shops and some sports can restart under certain conditions.
The move could see the Bundesliga – Germany’s professional football league – return in just over a week.
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Some German states want it to kick off again on May 15 and two people familiar with the preparations told Reuters it is probably set to be given the green light to restart then.
Schools will also gradually open for all pupils, while states will be left to decide for themselves on reopening restaurants, hotels and gyms.
Based on infection levels, states will also choose how and when to gradually reopen universities, bars, trade fairs, cosmetic studios, brothels, theatres, cinemas and discos.
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