The rapid rise in Germany’s COVID-19 numbers is very worrying, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said yesterday as authorities issued a travel warning against parts of Spain.
“We must prevent that the virus once again spreads rapidly and uncontrollably,” institute president Lothar Wieler told reporters.
“The latest developments in the number of COVID-19 cases is of great concern to me and all of us at the RKI,” he said.
Germany has fared better than many of its neighbors in suppressing the virus, but Wieler urged citizens not to squander the progress following a spike numbers in recent weeks.
“It’s in our hands how the pandemic evolves in Germany,” Wieler said, calling on Germans to stick with prevention measures such as washing hands and keeping a safe distance.
Masks should be worn not only indoors, but also outdoors, if the recommended 1.5m distancing cannot be maintained, he said.
Germans bringing the virus back from their summer holidays was one reason for the surge in cases, but outbreaks have also been happening at workplaces and open-air parties, he said.
The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised holidaymakers not to travel to several Spanish regions, including Catalonia, that have seen infection rates rise.
The advice came a day after German Minister of Health Jens Spahn said COVID-19 tests would be made mandatory for travelers returning from at-risk areas.
“We must prevent returning travelers from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection. I will therefore order compulsory testing for travelers from risk areas,” Spahn wrote on Twitter on Monday.
The regulations will come into force next week, the German Ministry of Health tweeted, and tests will be free.
The debate around testing intensified over the weekend after Germany’s 16 states agreed on Friday for free tests for all returning travelers, but had stopped short of making the tests mandatory.
Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said that his state would set up test sites at its two biggest railway stations, in Munich and Nuremberg, as well as key points on motorways near the Austrian border, in addition to existing centers at airports.
Soeder said it would also be testing all seasonal agricultural workers in the state, following a mass COVID-19 outbreak at a large farm.
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