Coronavirus pandemic

Negligence blamed for rise in cases in Germany

BERLIN • Negligence is behind Germany's steady rise in new coronavirus cases, the head of a state-funded research body said yesterday, adding it was unclear if a second wave was under way.

"The new developments in Germany make me very worried," Dr Lothar Wieler, of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, said during his first news conference in weeks.

"The rise has to do with the fact that we have become negligent," he added, urging people not to flout social distancing rules.

The number of daily new cases almost doubled yesterday to 633, and the RKI, which is Germany's most closely followed compiler of Covid-19 data, linked that to increased contact at parties and the workplace.

With more than 206,000 confirmed cases and just over 9,000 deaths, Germany wants to avoid a second wave, which would bring back lockdowns after economically crippling restrictions closed many businesses for six weeks in March and April.

Europe's biggest economy withstood the pandemic with far fewer deaths than some of its large neighbours, such as France and Italy, owing to widespread testing, a well-equipped healthcare system and good adherence to social distancing.

However, the summer holiday season has prompted fears that tourists returning from destinations experiencing a surge in new cases, such as Spain, could sow the seeds of a second wave. But Dr Wieler downplayed that.

"It is irrelevant if you are on holiday or at home," he said. "The holiday is as much a part of the precautions against the spread of Covid-19 as your work and home life. The setting is irrelevant."

The port city of Hamburg is weighing a ban on selling alcohol in its red light district after revellers ignored social distancing rules at the weekend.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline Negligence blamed for rise in cases in Germany. Subscribe