BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s health experts are divided over whether the country is ready to ease COVID-19 restrictions as its neighbours start dialling back curbs.
Germany on Thursday reported a record of 236,120 new daily cases thanks to the more-infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but some health experts say it is time to put a “freedom plan” for how restrictions will be eased gradually.
“Formulating this Freedom Plan is now the most important task of politics,” Andreas Gassen, the head of the KBV family doctors’ association, told Rheinische Post newspaper on Friday.
Gassen said Germany should accept living with COVID-19 as it does with influenza which has always new variants and cases tens of thousands of deaths annually.
“We have to accept that with corona and at the same time continue to offer vaccinations for risk groups,” Gassen added.
Other European countries, including Finland, Britain, Ireland and neighbouring Austria and Switzerland have started scaling back their restrictions in recent days in pursuit of a return to pre-pandemic normality.
Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declined to give details about national plans to relax restrictions before the latest infection wave peaks, which is expected in mid-February.
But some German states, such as Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein have already announced easing curbs earlier this week; a step that was criticised by some German health experts as premature.
“It would be fatal if we got on a rollercoaster ride with the number of infections increasing again due to loosening too early,” Gernot Marx, the head of Germany’s association for intensive care medicine, told Funke media group of newspaper.
Marx said concrete easing steps should only be decided when the number of infection steadily fall over several days.
Scholz is due to discuss possible coronavirus measures with the federal states’ leaders on Feb. 16.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Aurora Ellis)