North Rhine-Westphalia plans to decide this week whether to drop mandatory masks and regular Corona testing at schools. Meanwhile, the seven-day incidence continues to rise. Here are the latest developments around the pandemic as well as case numbers.
WHO warns against lifting Corona protection measures too early
In view of the rising number of Corona cases worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warns against ending protective measures too early. These include wearing masks and keeping a distance. If the measures were lifted, the virus would have more opportunities to circulate, said Maria von Kerkhove, WHO Covid-19 specialist, in Geneva on Wednesday. The problem is that there is now much less testing worldwide. This makes it more difficult to monitor the spread of variants.
The WHO never comments on the Corona management of individual countries. It only calls on governments to constantly analyse the situation in their country and to take measures adapted to the danger situation.
Van Kerkhove warned against false assumptions: that the pandemic is over or that the Omikron variant is harmless. He said that older, sick and unvaccinated people in particular were still at risk of contracting Covid-19 if they were infected. But the tools to contain the virus are there, he said, including measures such as wearing masks and keeping your distance, as well as vaccination.
Worldwide, the number of weekly reported Corona infections rose in the second week of March for the first time since late January. The WHO reported eight percent more infections than the week before, a total of eleven million, and 43,000 deaths from Covid-19.
Corona figures from Bonn
Infection figures in Bonn remain at a high level, with the city registering 5,905 new infections in the past seven days at an incidence of 1786.3 on Wednesday.
"The health department attributes the high numbers to the country's opening strategy, through which people are meeting more again," a statement from the city said. The incidence is highest among younger people. It is 2194.7 in the 0-19 age group, 2203.2 in the 20-39 age group, 1839.4 in the 40-59 age group, 876.6 in the 60-79 age group and 847.9 in the over-80 age group.
The health department is currently registering outbreaks with at least three related infections in eleven senior citizen facilities and five hospitals. In schools and day-care centres, 1,107 infected persons are currently reported, including 76 educators, 189 day-care children, 47 teachers and 717 pupils.
Gebauer: Decision on compulsory masks and tests at schools soon
The state government wants to decide this week whether schools in North Rhine-Westphalia will be required to wear masks and take regular Corona tests. This was announced by NRW Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) on Wednesday in the Education Committee of the Düsseldorf State Parliament. She referred to the federal government's draft of a new Infection Protection Act, which provides for the abolition of most nationwide Corona requirements as early as 20 March. The bill is to be decided on by the Bundestag and Bundesrat on Friday.
"On the basis of this bill, the state government is currently conducting the necessary consultations on the continued validity of infection control measures. This applies in particular with regard to the obligation to wear masks in the classroom and the continuation of testing without a reason," said Gebauer. To this end "discussions have taken place and are taking place" with many stakeholders and associations. The schools will be informed about the new regulations this week.
(Original text: dpa/ga; Translation: Mareike Graepel)