Germany braces for Omicron wave: health minister

Source: Xinhua| 2021-12-23 01:47:06|Editor: huaxia

BERLIN, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- A fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Omicron variant as the dominant form, can no longer be prevented in Germany and "we are preparing intensively for this right now," said Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, during a press conference on Wednesday.

The most important tool in the fight against this wave of infection is a "particularly offensive booster campaign," Lauterbach said, stressing that booster vaccinations protect against severe disease in more than 90 percent of cases.

Warning of an "unprecedented momentum," Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), said that Omicron will be the predominant variant in Germany within three weeks at the latest.

Around 540 confirmed Omicron cases and around 1850 suspected cases have been reported to the RKI so far, Wieler said.

On Wednesday, the German government extended the validity of COVID-19 entry restrictions for travelers until the beginning of March. Under these rules, travelers entering Germany from an Omicron variant area require a negative PCR test which must be no older than 48 hours.

Countries listed as Omicron variant areas by Germany include southern Africa and Great Britain. The PCR testing obligation also applies to travelers who are only passing through Germany.

Testing requirements for children have also been changed, and will be lowered from the current 12 years old to six years old, since children in Germany will now have the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from the age of five. Enditem

KEY WORDS: Germany,coronavirus,wave