Germany weighs in on new travel rules amid rising Delta variant


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The Delta variant of the coronavirus could be dominant in Germany in the coming days, meaning the current bans could be lifted on most travelers from Britain or Portugal, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday.

“I hope that during the month of July we will see Delta account for more than 70 to 80 percent of infections in our country,” Spahn said at a government press conference in Berlin.

The Robert Koch Institute health agency (RKI) reported on Wednesday that the Delta variant, first identified in India, already accounted for 37 per cent of infections in Germany the week to June 20th.

The variant is expected to account for at least half of the new infections this week, experts said.

If the Delta variant becomes dominant in Germany, the so-called coronavirus variant countries could be reclassified, such as Britain and Portugal, most of whose travel is currently banned, according to Spahn.

Given Delta’s growing popularity and research showing that full vaccination protects well against it, “we will analyze the situation in the coming days,” Spahn said.

“If these two things are confirmed, we will be able to treat Portugal and the UK as high-incidence areas,” rather than varying countries, he said.

Only citizens and residents of Germany can enter from a variant country and are subject to forty-two weeks, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or can provide a negative test for COVID-19.

Conversely, anyone can enter from a high-incidence country and can end their quarantine after five days with a negative test.

The current list of countries with variants includes Great Britain, Portugal, India and Russia.

Despite the growing proportion of the Delta variant, the overall incidence in Germany has been steadily declining in recent weeks.

The RKI reported 892 new cases in the last 24 hours on Thursday and an incidence rate of 5.1 new infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days.

But across Europe, the number of new cases rose again last week after a ten-week decline, according to the World Health Organization.

“Last week, the number of cases increased by 10 per cent, driven by increased mixing, travel, meetings and reduced social restrictions,” the WHO regional director said on Thursday by in Europe, Hans Kluge.

Speaking to the European Parliament, the head of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, also warned of the threat posed by virus variants to the economy.

“The nascent recovery still faces uncertainty, also due to the spread of virus mutations,” he said.

Germany bans most travel from Portugal and Russia above the variant

© 2021 AFP

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