Germany is already experiencing its second wave of coronavirus infections, according to the head of the Marburger Bund, the doctors trade union.
"We are already in a second, flat wave," Marburger Bund chairwoman Susanne Johna told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.
Johna added the second surge in infections is not comparable in intensity to the first coronavirus wave, which hit Germany in March this year.
However, she warned that the there is a danger Germany will “gamble away the successes we have achieved so far” as people get tired of the rules and want to get back to normal life.
“We all long for normality. But we are in a state that is not normal, ” Johna told the newspaper. “As long as there are no drugs to treat COVID-19, the spread of the virus must be curbed. "
Germany’s daily new cases of COVID-19 have been rising in the past couple of weeks to levels not seen since May. Infections rose by 891 to 212,111 in the past 24 hours to Tuesday morning.
Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s public health agency, said last week that he was “very concerned” at the rising case numbers.
"We are in the middle of a rapidly developing pandemic," Wieler said, warning that Germans had become negligent in terms of respecting mask-wearing and social-distancing rules.
The country was praised earlier this year for its swift and decisive response to the outbreak, with early shutdowns and mass testing resulting in fewer deaths from the virus than other EU countries. The current death toll is just over 9,100.
While lockdowns have lifted and schools are reopening this week, outbreaks, for example in slaughterhouses, have meant the reintroduction of some local lockdowns.
Fears that there will be a spike in infections increased this weekend, after over 20,000 demonstrators from all over Germany crowded into central Berlin protesting against coronavirus restrictions.
The protesters refused to wear masks or distance from each other, and 45 police officers were injured trying to break up the demonstration.
The protest has sparked a political debate in Germany about preserving the constitutional right to assembly versus protecting people’s health.
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Angela Merkel’s spokesperson on Monday (3 August) slammed the demonstrators for “unacceptable violations of the coronavirus restrictions,” saying that those who refused to respect the rules had “exploited their right to demonstrate.”
As far as the next wave goes, Johna said that Germany’s hospitals are prepared this time around and would be able to keep beds free according to requirements, expanding intensive care capacity as needed.
Germany currently has some 21,000 ICU beds, and over 12,000 of those are free at the moment according the DIVI (German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine). it said there are 272 COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care treatment, 129 of those receiving ventilation.