Germany's COVID-19 figures continue to fall after Omicron peak

BERLIN, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Daily COVID-19 infections in Germany declined as 220,048 new cases were registered within one day, around 20,100 less than a week ago, according to the RKI. The seven-day incidence per 100,000 residents also fell to 1371.1, compared to 1472.2 last Friday.

On Wednesday, the German government agreed on a three-step plan to gradually lift most of the country's COVID-19 restrictions by March 20. Contact restrictions for vaccinated and recovered people as well as entry restrictions in the retail sector were dropped with immediate effect.

"We are in a vulnerable phase," said Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, calling on the federal states not to go beyond the agreed relaxations. If the anti-pandemic measures were relaxed too quickly, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Germany would start to rise again.

Pointing to the rise of the even more contagious Omicron subtype BA.2, Lauterbach said at a joint press conference with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases that the country was "not really in safe waters yet."

File photo: Xinhua

In the first week of February, the COVID-19 subvariant BA.2 already accounted for 14.9 percent of infections in Germany, up from 10.4 percent in the previous week, according to latest data by RKI.

The country had to "be prepared for the fact that there will be more COVID-19 waves," said RKI vice chief Lars Schaade, who also warned that the peak for intensive care units had not yet been reached and that elderly people in particular still required protection.

According to the German Intensive Care Availability Register (DIVI), the number of COVID-19 patients requiring treatment in intensive care units fell to 2,436 on Friday, 35 less than on the previous day.