Whe comes here for the first time in the romantic valley of the Neisse in the border triangle Germany-Poland-Czech Republic, rubs his eyes in amazement. On the German side of the river, close to the border with Poland, there seems to be a fairytale castle. With domes, towers and decor in the Bohemian Baroque style.
And yet St. Marienthal is nothing less than that. Behind the magnificent facades, simplicity, obedience and renunciation prevail. Women who have dedicated their lives to God and their community live here.
The new high in deaths was expected by statisticians. There is little prospect of improvement in the next few weeks.
Sad high: 1,129 coronavirus-related deaths Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd / dpa
BERLINtaz | The number of reported deaths related to the coronavirus has passed the 1,000 mark for the first time, a high. Within one day, the German health authorities transmitted 1,129 new deaths to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), according to the RKI figures from Wednesday morning. In addition, 22,459 new infections were reported.
This means that both indicators are three to four times as high as on the Christmas holidays. However, there is much to suggest that in reality they were never significantly lower.
Even before Christmas, the RKI had announced that the current figures were only partially comparable with the values of the previous weeks, as it expected a lower number of tests and fewer reports from the health authorities at the turn of the year. Many cases of new infections and deaths have therefore still not been included in the statistics. It is to be expected that the number of registered cases will increase significantly in the next few days.
This is also shown by a look at the situation in the hospitals. The number of corona intensive care patients there has risen continuously over Christmas too. As an overview by the Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) shows, the capacities of the clinics are already fully utilized in many regions.
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Because a certain proportion of the patients in the clinics will always die, the number of deaths will remain at the current level in the next few days and weeks or will increase even further.
The statisticians’ forecasts are gloomy
This is by no means surprising for experts. In their last newsletter before Christmas, statisticians from the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich wrote that “a further increase in the number of deaths reported must be expected in the near future”.
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The Munich scientists use the so-called nowcasting method for their calculations. You look at the reported new infections and then calculate how many deaths can be expected in the near future.
A precise analysis of the age groups is particularly important here. In the past few weeks, the infection rate of those over 80 who are particularly at risk was twice as high as in the general population, and that of those over 90 was almost four times as high. This explains why the number of deaths is growing faster than the number of newly infected. Of all those newly infected in calendar week 51 – that is, in the week up to December 20 – “around 6,500, that is an average of 900 per day, would not survive the disease,” write the scientists.
The second wave of the corona pandemic is going around the world. Which regions are particularly affected? What is the situation like in the clinics? You can find the overview with figures and graphics here.
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The tougher lockdown that is now in force will not change that. Because of him, the number of infections could only have decreased in the 52nd calendar week. However, due to the delay in reporting, no one can reliably say whether this is the case at the moment.
The situation in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg is particularly dramatic. According to the Munich researchers, there will be “an approximately three-fold higher mortality rate at the end of the year than in most other federal states”. The situation in Thuringia and Brandenburg is outstanding. The number of deaths there would be even higher than in Saxony, which is currently hardest hit.
Growing excess mortality in November
Unlike the scientists from LMU, the Federal Statistical Office does not look forward, but backwards. On Wednesday it published its latest analysis of the death rate in Germany. All registered cases up to calendar week 48, i.e. until the end of November, have now been included.
In the entire month of November, writes the Federal Office, 11 percent more deaths were counted than the average in previous years. In the last week of November there was even an excess mortality rate of 14 percent.
It is noticeable that the excess mortality in all four weeks of November in absolute numbers is very close to the number of Covid-19 deaths registered by the RKI. In the last week of November there were 2,519 corona deaths, the excess mortality was 2,525.
Based on the projections of the statisticians from Munich, one must therefore assume that there will be an excess mortality rate of around 35 percent nationwide in Germany at the beginning of January at the latest.
It’s only been two months since a handful of people in dark robes walked through the streets of Zittau with a cart and a coffin on them. “We were promised 25,000 deaths,” said one of the robes, repeatedly. This can be seen on a YouTube video, accompanied by dark sounds. “Where are the dead? Where did you hide them?” They protested because Covid-19 couldn’t be that bad. That was in the middle of October.
The corona situation is escalating in south-east Saxony. Zittau’s crematorium is overloaded. Authorities work overtime to issue death certificates.
At the border: a hearse in front of the Zittau hospital Photo: Daniel Schäfer / dpa
DRESDENtaz | The pandemic situation in the southeast of Saxony is alarming. In the city of Zittau, victims of the coronavirus currently have to be stored in a flood protection hall. The city administration announced in a press release that the number of deceased exceeded the capacity of the crematorium – “despite optimized processes and constantly working technology”.
With 115 deaths recorded by Tuesday, the monthly mortality has already risen two and a half times compared to previous years. However, non-tremors treated in the clinic are also recorded.
The official medical examination and the issuing of death certificates can hardly follow. Because of the “urgent need”, the registry office will also open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day – “and only certify deaths”.
The undertakers’ guild in Saxony as a whole feels at the limit. “The biggest problem is now the holidays, everyone is afraid of that,” said Guild Master Tobias Wenzel in Marienberg in the Ore Mountains of the dpa. In his opinion, the nursing homes from which most of the deceased come should have been better protected.
Why Zittau of all places?
The extreme situation in Zittau could not be foreseen for a long time. The city of 29,000 was by no means one of the Saxon hotspots. In December, however, the infection curve rose steeply. The 7-day incidence value has now passed the 800 mark.
In the middle of the month, a statement by the medical director of the Oberlausitzer-Bergland Clinic Mathias Mengel caused a stir. The so-called triage had to be used, i.e. a choice between several people in need due to scarce resources. “In the past few days we have been in the situation several times that we had to decide who gets oxygen and who doesn’t,” the director later told the news portal T-Online.
Saxony’s Minister of Health, Petra Köpping, weakened this statement as a “warning call” with which Mengel wanted to draw attention to the impending overload. At this time, Lord Mayor Thomas Zenker was already calling for help from the state and other clinic locations with patient care. “It is clearly evident that we cannot make progress on our own in this situation!” Zenker also took corona deniers to court, including some city and district councilors. It was “unspeakable” what he had to listen to at the meeting of a Pegida offshoot.
Pastor Ansgar Schmidt is also indignant that conspiracy theorists have “used his St. John’s Church as a backdrop”. He observes uncertainty and fear in the city.
Fear and caution
People made the experience “that death and disease have moved closer”. According to a letter to all households of parishioners, the offered telephone advice in particular is used a lot. People poured out their hearts. But one cannot speak of panic, people have only become more cautious.
Acting director Dorotty Szalma from the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater also speaks of “falling silent in a gray city”. “Nobody is loud anymore, not even the conspiracy theorists.” The Christmas preparations still covered the resigned mood, but she was afraid of the time after the festival and its family hustle and bustle. Szalma experienced the well-known Lord Mayor Thomas Zenker as “desperate”, as did the district administrator of the Görlitz district, Bernd Lange. She can only suspect the high average age of the population as a possible cause for the catastrophic increase in the number of infections.
Pastor Ansgar Schmidt has so far planned six church services for Christmas, each limited to 120 visitors registered in writing. But they would also withdraw their registration. Fear and caution increase.
110 dead in November, 115 so far in December: In Zittau, the crematorium has to move corpses, the medical officer puts off extra shifts. About a Saxon city in the fight against Corona – and against the rumors.
Cornelius Pollmer, Leipzig
Nobody has to be good at math to understand the weight of these statistics. In November, the last 49 (2018) and 52 (2019) deaths were recorded in the registry office district of Zittau in Eastern Saxony – this year there were 110, a number like an emergency call.
Altmaier – With high corona numbers, relaxation is prohibited
In the Corona crisis, Federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier indicated an extension of the hard lockdown beyond January 10th. “As long as all of Germany is a huge hotspot, loosening practically prohibits itself,” said the CDU politician of the German Press Agency. Altmaier also spoke out in favor of a change of strategy in the fight against the virus.
The hard lockdown is currently limited to January 10th – the goal is the extensive shutdown of public life in Germany. This includes the closure of many shops. On January 5th, the federal and state governments want to discuss how to proceed.
Altmaier said: “I would like us to learn a lesson from the last few months – namely that we make the measures we take more dependent on objective conditions and less on ad-hoc decisions.” agreed that in a city or in a district, if the incidence was above a value of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days.
“What we have not yet decided, however, are clear guidelines on what happens if the incidence in a whole federal state or in all of Germany is over 50, 100, 150 or over 200,” said Altmaier. “It makes sense to determine in good time what has to happen when threshold values are exceeded – not just in individual districts, but in entire federal states or nationwide.” Then everyone, the people and the companies, can adapt. Because one of the worst side effects of the pandemic is the constant uncertainty.
“Our everyday life will probably be restricted for another two to three months. Our private social life will normalize from early summer, ”said Altmaier, referring to the imminent start of vaccinations. “We will have to wear a mask on certain occasions until next winter or beyond. And it will be a long time before we can take responsibility for major events as we used to know them again. Nevertheless, most people’s life becomes more relaxed again from early summer. “