Rising numbers of infections New restrictions threaten after increases in COVID-19 infections in several NRW cities
Gelsenkirchen/Cologne · In North Rhine-Westphalia, the number of people infected with coronavirus is rising. The cities of Gelsenkirchen, Hamm and Remscheid are particularly affected. On Monday, the authorities will decide whether stricter local restrictions for people should be introduced.
The number of new coronavirus infections in North Rhine-Westphalia is rising again significantly. The cities of Gelsenkirchen, Hamm and Remscheid are particularly affected and the so-called early warning level there was exceeded at the weekend, which means that people there may now have to adjust to new restrictions in public life again. Today, Monday, the authorities want to decide whether to reintroduce stricter restrictions for these affected cities. The situation in Cologne and the Oberbergische District remains just below the pre-warning level.
According to the key indicator of the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days, Gelsenkirchen continued to lead the large cities and districts in North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday. The so-called seven-day incidence there was announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) to be 44.1, the same as the value day before, compared to 10.7 one week ago. The value for Hamm was 43.0 on Sunday and one week ago it was 10.1. In Remscheid, according to the RKI, 36.9 people per 100,000 inhabitants were infected with coronavirus in the past seven days; the value one week ago was 20.7.
In NRW, cities and districts with a seven-day incidence above 35 must agree concrete countermeasures with the responsible state authorities. In addition, spectators are no longer allowed to watch Bundesliga soccer matches above this level, which could become an issue in Gelsenkirchen, where FC Schalke 04 has its first home game of the season next Saturday.
On Friday evening, the city of Cologne decreed that due to the rising number of infections, the 1.FC Köln would have to play its Bundesliga opening match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the weekend without spectators, different to planned. On Sunday, the seven-day incidence of 34.2 in Cologne was then just below the pre-warning level, as was the value of 33.0 in the Oberbergische Kreis.
Countrywide, the cumulative infection rate was 15.3 people per 100,000 inhabitants in the week up to Sunday, according to data of the RKI. The incidence in NRW ranked fourth among the federal states, behind that in Berlin, Bavaria and Hamburg. One week previously, the figure for NRW was 10.7.
The authorities will decide on Monday how to proceed in the most affected cities. Luidger Wolterhoff, head of the Gelsenkirchen health department, said on Saturday that the state health ministry will "make a binding statement on Monday morning", after a meeting of the municipal crisis management team. Earlier, the city had already announced that it would impose more restrictions on private parties in particular. "In the past few days, we have noticed that large private celebrations in Gelsenkirchen have contributed to the spread of coronavirus," said Karin Welge, head of the crisis team. That is why the city wants to use restrictions to address exactly this problem.
Hamm also announced that a statement on possible restrictions would be made on Monday. In particular, a wedding celebration had recently led to the sharp increase in cases there.
The first restrictions after the pre-warning stage is exceeded are intended to prevent a local lockdown in the event of a further increase in the number of infections. If a large city or district exceeds the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in one week, the North Rhine-Westphalia Corona Protection Ordinance stipulates that "additional protective measures must be urgently implemented".
(Original text, Marc Herwig; translation John Chandler)