German hospitals are hoping for Omicron – as a milder variant

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People Pass by COVID-19 Test Station in Kurfuerstendamm, in the Midst of the Crown Virus Pandemic (COVID-19), Berlin, Germany, December 1, 2021. REUTERS / Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) – A variant of the Omicron coronavirus virus could ease the pressure on Germany’s health care system if it is shown to cause milder disease, although the number of infections is growing, the head of the state association of senior hospital doctors (VLK) said on Sunday.

VLK President Michael Weber said the coronavirus would no longer pose a threat to the health system if Omicron became dominant in Germany such as South Africa, Britain or Denmark and if the infections were predominantly mild as there.

“There is a real likelihood that the pandemic will become endemic in this country as well,” Weber told Welt am Sonntag.

As Omicron spreads in Germany, daily infections have been on the rise again in recent days after a steady decline in December, and the number of beds in intensive care units has also increased.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach also expressed optimism that Omicron seems less dangerous than previous variants, but noted that it still poses a risk to the elderly who have not been vaccinated.

“The first vaccination drastically reduces the risk of death after only 14 days. I appeal to people: Get vaccinated!” Lauterbach told Bild am Sonntag.

The highly contagious variant of Omicron has caused an increase in the number of coronavirus cases worldwide. The number of those infected around the world reached record levels, with an average of just over a million detected cases a day between December 24 and 30, according to Reuters. But so far, mortality has not grown at the same rate, which gives hope that the variant is less deadly.

Germany reported 12,515 new infections on Sunday, with the seven-day incidence per 100,000 people rising to 222.7 from 220.3 the previous day. Another 46 people died, bringing the number of deaths in the pandemic to 112,155.

Lauterbach also said wearing masks is still important.

“The viral load of those infected with Omicron is lower, which makes masks more effective. Everyone should wear masks when meeting other people.”

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