German health officials said Friday the nation has broken the third wave of COVID-19 infections, but cautioned the pandemic is far from over.
German Health Minster Jens Spahn, joined by Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI) President Lothar Wieler, said the nation as a whole — and most of Germany’s 400 cities and counties — had weekly infection rates below the threshold of 100 per 100,000 inhabitants that triggered strict lockdown measures.
Spahn credited German citizens for minding social guidelines and suffering through recurring lockdowns for progress that has been made. “It was exactly this combination of confidence and caution, vaccination and taking care of each other, which was important to break the third wave. We did it together.”
Spahn said Germany’s vaccination program was progressing well, with about 40% of the German population having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and about 13% fully vaccinated. He said the decline in coronavirus cases and the steady rise in vaccination rates were encouraging signs.
Wieler said a recent RKI survey showed 73% of the population wanted to be vaccinated, which shows “vaccination readiness is very high” in Germany.
But he and Spahn both cautioned the pandemic is not over. Spahn urged people to use caution, as beer gardens, cafes and restaurants in Berlin and elsewhere were preparing to serve customers outdoors Friday for the first time in months, provided they prove they had a negative COVID-19 test or present a vaccination certificate.
“The danger has not yet been averted,” Wieler said. “Let’s make the best use of the summer and continue to take good care of each other, with as few sick people as possible. If we continue to stick together, we will together overpower this virus.”