Many new corona infections in NRW: looking for an explanation

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When that Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is currently publishing its daily corona management report, there are always warning notices. For the first time since May, the RKI reported more than 1000 newly infected people within one day on Thursday. “The number of new cases submitted every day had already increased in the past two weeks. This development is very worrying and is being monitored very closely by the RKI. A further worsening of the situation must be avoided at all costs, ”said the RKI report on Thursday.

The virologist, on the other hand, was a little more relaxed Hendrik Streeck in an interview with the FAZ.: “From my point of view, it is more important to measure the infection rate based on the inpatient occupancy and intensive care bed occupancy in the hospitals,” he said. There is currently no significant increase in severe Coronafällen recorded in the intensive care units. Gernot Marx, spokesman for the Intensive Care Medicine Working Group of the German Society for Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, expects that the number of cases in the intensive care units will increase again.

All over Germany there are currently minor outbreaks, for example after celebrations with family or friends, at religious events in facilities for asylum seekers or old people’s and nursing homes. In the Bavarian district of Dingolfing-Landau, there were two outbreaks among harvest workers and in a canning factory. According to the RKI, the district currently had the highest seven-day incidence with around 232 infected people per 100,000 inhabitants.

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A look at the country level is also cause for concern. According to the RKI, the seven-day incidence in Berlin, Hesse and Hamburg is slightly and in North Rhine-Westphalia is currently “well above the national average”. So far, North Rhine-Westphalia has come through the pandemic relatively well. Although fewer people live in Bavaria than in NRW, there have been more infected people in the Free State since the beginning of the pandemic (51,582 compared to 50,493 in NRW). But currently the infection rate on the Rhine and Ruhr is much more dynamic than in Bavaria. If there were 788 new infections in the past seven days, there were 2127 in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Edmund Heller, State Secretary in North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Health says the FAZ: “We are vigilant, but alarmism is not indicated.” In absolute terms, the infection numbers are currently not comparable with the pandemic situation in March or April. “There is still a certain summer break, but you have to reckon with the fact that the infection process will reach a new phase when it gets colder again.” the situation is intense, says Heller. An explanation for why the seven-day incidence in NRW is currently well above the national average has not yet been found.

One of the central questions is whether the increase in new infections in a district or a city can clearly be traced back to an outbreak, a super-spreader event, or whether it is a diffuse occurrence. A diffuse, subcutaneous event is more worrying than a largely unambiguous outbreak event, says the North Rhine-Westphalian State Secretary for Health. “In the case of major events such as the major slaughterhouse in the Gütersloh district or in a logistics warehouse in the Heinsberg district, we have so far managed to get the situation under control because it is clear where to start.”

It is noticeable that in the first phase of the pandemic the many conurbations in North Rhine-Westphalia, such as the Ruhr area or the Rhine rail, were comparatively inconspicuous. “At the beginning of the year we had major outbreaks such as the carnival celebrations in Gangelt and Cluster, which can be traced back to those returning to skiing holidays from Ischgl, but which could then be quickly narrowed down.” An explanation for why there are now increasing numbers in the Ruhr area , one has not yet. The authorities are everywhere “on the targeted search for explanations,” says Heller. Possibly a lot is coming together at the moment: returning travelers, the fact that more and more tests are being carried out, many people are more relaxed about distance and hygiene rules, the topic of family celebrations.

In any case, the authorities in the Kleve district are certain that the fact that the numbers there are currently noticeably bad has to do with a wedding celebration at which dozens of guests became infected.

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