“Every day counts”: Spahn: Countries shouldn’t wait for an emergency brake

“Every day counts”
Spahn: Countries shouldn’t wait for an emergency brake

The corona numbers are increasing, the situation in the intensive care units is worsening dramatically. Health Minister Spahn calls on the federal states to act – even before the emergency brake is to be decided by federal law next week. RKI boss Wieler advises clinics to move patients.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has called for additional measures in view of the further increase in the corona numbers and called on the states not to wait for the planned “federal emergency brake”. “Every day counts in this difficult situation,” said the CDU politician at a joint press conference with the President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler.

Spahn called for warnings from intensive care physicians to be taken seriously. The main goal remains to avoid overloading the health system. “What we may be missing now will take revenge in two or three weeks. Just as it is taking revenge now that was not decided two or three weeks ago.” Vaccination and testing weren’t enough to break the third wave, Spahn said. Decisive action and further restrictions are required.

The health minister appealed “also to the federal states”. “It is good that we will soon have a uniform and comprehensible regulation by federal law with the emergency brake, but we shouldn’t wait for the Bundestag to pass this law next week.” Time is pressing. Everyone already has the opportunity to act. “You don’t have to wait for this federal law.”

Clinics should restrict regular operations

RKI boss Wieler has urged political decision-makers to break the third wave in the pandemic. “We have to bring the numbers down. It is naive to believe that we can test the virus away. It doesn’t work,” he said. This requires regulations, effective strategies and consistent implementation. “The situation in the hospitals is worsening in some cases dramatically and will hit us even harder than in the second wave. We have to act now.”

Wieler advised all clinics to limit their regular operations in order to conserve capacities for treating seriously ill patients. There are already no more free beds in the intensive care units in some cities and metropolitan areas. “And that is a situation in which we have to expect more patients.” Stable patients should therefore be transferred from regions with an acute lack of beds to less affected regions in good time.

Because of the severity of the diseases, more and more artificial lungs would be needed in the intensive care units, said the RKI President. Eight out of ten devices are occupied with Covid patients. There are now many younger adults among them. There is progress in vaccination, but many people have to wait several months or more for their vaccination, including children. Most new cases are now among 15 to 49 year olds. And: “The death rate is no longer falling.”

Only half of the PCR test capacity used

Even after surviving the disease, the suffering is not always over, reported Wieler. One in ten people who have recovered suffer from long-term effects weeks or months after recovery. The number of cases was not increasing because more tests were being carried out, the scientist emphasized. There are 12 percent positive PCR tests – but only half of the capacity is used at all.

Wieler compared the current pandemic situation with a picture: “Imagine you are driving on narrow roads in the Dolomites. It is winding and on one side is a steep slope. Everyone knows that I can only drive into this curve when I am 30. If so I drive in here at a speed of 100, then it’s life-threatening. You get off the road. And to be honest, no emergency brakes help anymore. “

Both Wieler and Spahn criticized the planned stop of face-to-face classes from a seven-day incidence of 200 as inadequate. “In my opinion, the 200 limit is too high,” said Wieler. The higher the threshold, the more children will be taken out of classes because of infections and the more whole classes will have to be left at home. With regard to the predominant virus variant known as the British mutation, Spahn said: “Especially in schools, especially with the experience we have with this mutation, I can imagine these measures much earlier than with 200 – absolutely.”