Germany's coronavirus infection rate rises after easing lockdown
29 April 2020, 14:49 | Updated: 29 April 2020, 16:08
Germans have been urged to stay at home after the country's coronavirus infection rate grew following the easing of lockdown measures.
Widely considered one of the most successful European countries in dealing with Covid-19, Germany is now facing the prospect of tighter restrictions because of a second rise in cases.
The country began easing lockdown measures on 20 April, which included reopening small businesses and allowing children to gradually return to school.
However, people are now being encouraged to stay at home and abide by social distancing rules in order to prevent a second peak in infections.
Germany's infection rate, based on the average number of people a coronavirus patient transmits the disease to (also known as R), had fallen to 0.7.
However, following the relaxation of the lockdown, it has now increased to 0.96 according to leading epidemiologists.
This is just below the figure of R1 that officials say it must not exceed if they are to continue managing the outbreak.
German MEP and medical doctor Peter Liese urged the government not to lift too much too soon.
He said allowing people back into places such as churches was responsible, but warned that opening pubs and allowing people to drink alcohol could be problematic.
It is unclear whether the jump in the infection rate was caused by lifting some measures.
But the situation in Germany will likely be closely monitored by the rest of the world, including the UK, in order to decide whether or not to follow suit.
The country's overall number of Covid-19 cases grew by 1,018 on Monday and 1,144 on Tuesday.
Lothar Wieler, head of Germany's disease control centre the Robert Koch Institute, stressed the importance of the reproduction rate.
"The number should stay below one, that is the big goal," he told a news conference.
"The further it is below one, the more secure we can feel, the more leeway we have, but there are other numbers that are also important," he said.
Those figures include the number of cases per day and testing capacity.
The health expert encouraged people to continue abiding by social distancing measures and taking precautionary measures, such as wearing face masks on public transport and in shops.
"Against the background of the easing (of restrictions), let's ensure we can continue to defend this success we have achieved together," he added.
"We don't want the number of cases to rise again. Let's, insofar as is possible, stay at home, let's stick to the reduced contact."
Germany has had more than 160,000 infections and has recorded 6,314 deaths, compared to the UK which has had more than 161,000 cases and 21,678 deaths.
Coronavirus national testing co-ordinator Professor John Newton said the UK has been worse affected by the virus than Germany because of "the way it arrived in England."
Speaking on LBC, Prof Newton compared Berlin with London, saying London is "so connected to the rest of the world".
"This is a very unpredictable virus... it arrives slightly differently," he said.
"The coronavirus really took hold in England because of the way it arrived. In Germany the virus has spread differently."