Germany: COVID contact tracing interrupted in several states | News | DW

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German health authorities are struggling to trace contacts of COVID-19 cases amid the winter wave of the pandemic, said Ute Teichert, president of the Federal Association of Physicians in the Public Health Service.

In an interview published Friday with RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND), Teichert said “a full follow-up [of coronavirus cases] hardly takes place at the moment. “

No contact search in Berlin, Hamburg

In fact, several German states have completely suspended contact tracing of infected people, including Baden-Württemberg, Berlin and Hamburg, Teichert said.

Contact tracing offices are now primarily focused on recording “many coronavirus infections,” she added, amid an increase in infections in recent weeks exacerbated by the emergence of the highly transmissible variant of omicron.

“Unlike the delta variant, health authorities must order a quarantine for people infected with omicron and their contact persons, regardless of vaccination status.”

Teichert added that a significant increase in the number of omicron cases over the next few weeks will be a challenge for contact tracers.

“Many Germans think they don’t need to be quarantined as a contact person because they are vaccinated. But that’s not true,” the health official warned.

High level of stress for staff

While the research teams received short-term support from students and the military, Teichert said there had been a “massive fluctuation” in numbers for nearly two years.

“We have to constantly train new people, create new rhythms of work and deliver the technology – and always only for a few weeks before everything is scaled back again. This is not a solution,” she said. .

Sometimes German soldiers and students were roped up to help with contact tracing

Under-declaration expected at Christmas

Meanwhile, another senior health official said the number of infections in Germany would not be accurately reflected during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Fewer testing centers will remain open during the holiday season, and some German states will report incomplete infection rates, due to staff holidays and office closures.

Medical statistician Bertram Häussler said Die welt newspaper that the country would sink “into ignorance” for three weeks.

Tino Sorge, health spokesperson for the Conservative bloc in the Bundestag, warned that “omicron is not taking Christmas holidays” and that the drop in the number of daily cases reported would lull Germany into a “false sense of security” .

Germany reported 35,431 new cases and 370 new deaths on Friday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for Disease Control.

Omicron case up 25% in one day

Omicron is now present in all 16 German states, although the delta remains the dominant variant.

The number of omicron cases increased by a quarter in one day, from 810 to 3,198.

The national seven-day incidence fell to 265.8 from 280.3 the previous day. A week ago it was 331.8.

mm / fb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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