The actual number of infections is more than 600,000 per day

Karl Lauterbach

The Federal Minister of Health does not give the all-clear. On the contrary: He now wants the fourth vaccination for people aged 60 and over.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD) assumes that the officially reported infection numbers of currently around 300,000 infected people per day are actually twice as high. The exact number of unreported cases is not known, said Lauterbach in Berlin. “Unfortunately, it’s not a good situation.” We can’t just wait and see now.

Against this background, he renewed his appeal for vaccination. The risk of becoming infected now and having a severe course or even death is “higher than ever,” said Lauterbach.

A fourth vaccination should also be taken seriously, especially in the age group over 60. 90 percent of those recommended by the Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko) should have been vaccinated for the fourth time and have not yet done so.

Stiko currently recommends the fourth vaccination for people aged 70 and over, at the earliest three months after the first booster vaccination. This affects about 13 million people. Lauterbach said he asked the commission to consider a recommendation for people aged 60 and over.

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The health minister also announced that he would like to set criteria for the so-called hotspot rule with his counterparts in the federal states on Monday. It allows the federal states to continue to enforce stricter rules – such as a mask requirement in schools and shops as well as the 2G and 3G rule – despite the end of most corona measures decided in the new Infection Protection Act. Due to a transitional rule, these apply until the beginning of April at the latest.

>> Read here: Paul-Ehrlich-Institut gives the all-clear: Most quick tests also work at Omikron

However, the federal states see the hotspots as hardly feasible. They also lack clear criteria. At the federal-state meeting last week, the heads of the states criticized the federal government in an unprecedented way. “The mutual allegations don’t get us any further,” said Lauterbach.

Hotspot Rule Criteria

Now it is a question of using the hotspot rule – throughout the country. The SPD politician named criteria that the federal states could use to prove that the health system was overburdened.

This would apply if emergency care in a clinic could no longer be maintained, if planned interventions had to be postponed or canceled, or if care levels fell below the minimum. He wants to discuss these criteria at the meeting of health ministers on Monday.

Dissatisfaction with the federal government’s course on the pandemic is still great among the federal states. Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) urged quick improvements to the new nationwide legal framework for corona protection measures in the federal states on Friday.

>> Read here: Widespread criticism of future corona protection – these rules apply immediately

“In my view, the law is impractical and unsuitable to actually guarantee the protection of the population,” he told the German Press Agency. “The hotspot provisions are far too vague and simply do not allow the implementation of legally secure regulations.” It is also difficult to say to the citizens: “Well, let’s try it and see if it holds up or not.”

Holetschek said there was a big gap between what Health Minister Lauterbach saw in terms of dangers and what he had presented as law with Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).

“It’s difficult for us to apply something that isn’t legally secure from the outset.” It’s particularly difficult in non-city states because, for example, rescue control centers don’t always map clearly to district boundaries. “The federal government must quickly clarify that.” According to the law, hotspots must correspond to specific local authorities that are to be named.

More: Omicron subtype now at 72 percent.

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