BERLIN (REUTERS) - Coronavirus infections are rising exponentially in Germany, an expert at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Tuesday (March 16), putting at risk plans to lift the lockdown and revive the economy.
The number of cases per 100,000 reported on Tuesday was 83.7, up from 68 a week ago, and the RKI has said that metric could reach 200 by the middle of next month.
"We are exactly on the flank of the third wave. That can no longer be disputed. And at this point, we have eased the restrictions and that is speeding up the exponential growth," RKI epidemiologist Dirk Brockmann told German ARD television.
"It has been totally irrational to loosen up here. It is just fuelling this exponential growth," he said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed on a phased easing of curbs earlier this month, along with an "emergency brake" to let the authorities re-impose restrictions if case numbers rise above 100 per 100,000 on three consecutive days.
On Monday, the number of cases per 100,000 rose to 83, up from 79 on Sunday and 68 a week ago, and the RKI has warned that the metric could reach 200 by the middle of next month.
They are due to meet again on March 22 to discuss whether to allow any further relaxation of the rules.
The state government in the city of Berlin decided on Tuesday to put on hold any more easing, such as allowing restaurants or cinemas to open, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported.
Germany on Monday suspended use of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine, making it the latest of several European countries to hit pause following reports of blood coagulation disorders in recipients.
The decision followed a recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), Germany's authority in charge of vaccines, following seven cases of thrombosis, including three deaths.
Dr Brockmann said it made sense to explain the relative risks to the population, noting that 1,000 people in a million had died of Covid-19, compared with possibly one in a million from complications associated with the vaccine.
"In the risk groups, the risk of dying of Covid-19 is much, much higher. That means it is probably 100,000 times more likely to die of Covid-19 than because of an AstraZeneca vaccine," he said.