German coronavirus incidence hits lowest level since October

FILE PHOTO: Residents queue at a sports hall to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Berlin, Germany, May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) – The coronavirus infection rate in Germany has fallen below 50 per 100,000 people for the first time since October, data showed on Wednesday, and the health minister said the country can have a summer of peace from the virus if it keeps pushing it down.

The incidence rate compiled by the government’s disease prevention agency, the Robert Koch Institute, fell to 46.8 per 100,000, though officials said this was partly due to a bank holiday on Monday that reduced the number of cases recorded.

Around a month ago the rate was more than three times higher. The government imposed nationwide lockdown measures to bring it down, which are now gradually being lifted.

“The question of how much peace we will have from this virus in the summer depends very much on how low we can get the infection figures down now,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told NTV television.

“One goal is clear: as many vaccinations as possible, as few infections as possible, until the end of June, then it will be a really good summer,” he said.

After a slow start compared to Britain and the United States, Germany’s vaccination rollout is picking up speed. About 40% of the population of around 83 million people have received at least one dose and about 14% are fully vaccinated.

Spahn has said he wants to offer all children over 12 years old a vaccine by the end of August, provided European authorities give approval. A report by the RND media group said Germany’s STIKO vaccine commission may recommend the vaccine be used in adolescents only if they have chronic illnesses.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 2,626 new cases – a daily figure substantially lower than other recent figures, partly as a result of the holiday – and 270 new deaths, bringing the overall toll to 87,726.

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