The Bavarian warehouses for protective masks and other equipment are well stocked. In NRW, on the other hand, around 10 million masks have to be burned. Meanwhile, the RKI downgrades the threat posed by Sars-Covid to moderate. You can find all the news in the Corona ticker on FOCUS online.

Monday, February 6, 2023, 6:23 a.m .: According to the Ministry of Health, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia currently stores around 10 million protective masks that have to be burned. In addition, this year more than 7.2 million protective gowns will reach their use-by date, which will then also have to be disposed of. According to the ministry, most of the smocks come from the manufacturer van Laack.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the textile company from Mönchengladbach got in touch with the state government through the son of the then Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU). In spring 2020, after examining the offer, the Ministry of Health ordered 10 million gowns for around 45 million euros. There were months of discussions about the award of the contract. The opposition even commissioned its own assessment of the quality of the gowns – because the clinics supplied had sorted out some batches.

The state government had always emphasized that in the competitive market at the beginning of the pandemic, people were happy to get proper protective materials. First they were collected in a central warehouse at the Düsseldorf exhibition center and distributed from there. At an on-site visit in June 2020, Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) presented pallets full of masks, disposable gowns and disposable gloves.

Meanwhile, the protective materials are stored decentrally by the country. The 7.2 million protective gowns also belong to this so-called “state health protection reserve”, which was created for a new pandemic outbreak. According to the ministry, the emergency reserve also includes 4.3 million medical masks, around 800,000 FFP2 masks, 4,000 KN95 masks and 38,000 protective visors. Gloves and disinfectants are no longer in stock.

The durability of most of the protective visors as well as all KN95 masks and almost all protective gowns in stock will expire this year. “If there is no retrieval due to the pandemic and the expiry date is exceeded, thermal recycling (disposal) will take place,” said the Ministry of Health.

In the meantime, there are already things in the so-called “quarantine store” that have expired – or that have been sorted out due to quality defects. According to the ministry, they will be gradually burned. Below are:

– 9.4 million medical masks

– 1.2 million KN95 masks

– 1.4 million protective gowns

– 1 million goggles

– 728,000 gloves

– 90,000 test sticks

– 30,000 protective visors

Comparatively low: the number of corona tests. According to the ministry, the country has 194,400 in stock: “These were and are being made available to health facilities.” According to the Ministry of Education, more than 6.4 million tests are still being stored in the country’s schools (as of the end of December). According to the manufacturer, the test kits last 24 months.

Sunday. February 5, 2023, 10:02 a.m .: The Bavarian storeroom for masks and protective equipment is still well stocked. Vaccine from the vaccination centers that were closed at the end of 2022 still has to be distributed.

Since the demand for corona vaccines in Bavaria is only low and the shelf life of the vaccine doses is limited, tens of thousands of doses recently had to be disposed of. According to the ministry, around 155,000 vaccine doses were disposed of from the vaccination centers between October and December 2022 due to an expired use-by date. At peak times there were 100 vaccination centers in Bavaria. A total of around 14 million doses of vaccine were administered there.

Not only vaccines, but also protective equipment was kept in large numbers in Bavaria. According to the spokeswoman, around 68.5 million masks, more than 200 million protective gloves and around 11 million other protective clothing are currently stored in the so-called pandemic central warehouse. This material also has a limited shelf life. Most of the masks will last until mid-2025. In order to avoid material being left there until the shelf life has expired, there is a “rolling system”. The goods are handed out to clinics and other government agencies in good time before they expire.

In view of the development of the pandemic, the stock was also adjusted. Instead of the previous six months, the store should in future be sufficient for a supply of three months. For this purpose, the number of surgical masks kept was roughly halved to 20 million. In addition to protective equipment, the central warehouse also contains medical devices and equipment for emergency hospitals. This portfolio is also to be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

Saturday, February 4, 2023, 9:18 a.m .: The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has downgraded its assessment of the threat posed by corona infections. “The current risk from Covid-19 for the health of the population in Germany is assessed as moderate overall,” says the current weekly report published on Thursday evening. However, there is still a high number of infections, and the RKI continues to urge caution.

So far, the threat level was classified as “high”. The reason for the downgrading was primarily the significant decrease in the severity of the disease. There is currently no longer any risk of the healthcare system being overburdened. However, the infection pressure from various respiratory diseases, including corona cases, remains high.

“It therefore remains very important to implement the existing recommendations and, if symptoms of a respiratory infection such as a runny nose, sore throat or cough occur, regardless of the vaccination status and also in the case of a negative Covid-19 antigen rapid test result – for three to five days and up to to stay at home after a significant improvement in symptoms,” the RKI warned. In these cases, it is also important to “avoid contacts, especially with older people and people with certain previous illnesses who have an increased risk of a serious course of the disease with respiratory diseases”.

The number of corona-infected people in Germany was estimated at 200,000 to 400,000 for the past fourth calendar week. 68,000 people sought medical advice because of such an infection. Both values ​​have risen again compared to the previous week. The nationwide seven-day incidence of registered corona infections per 100,000 inhabitants rose again by 16 percent. The increase was strongest in people over 80 years of age.

According to the RKI, the nationwide incidence value is currently 93.1. However, many corona cases are no longer reported and registered. Accordingly, the proportion of the virus variant of the Omicron XBB.1.5 type, which first appeared in the USA, has also increased.

Friday, February 3, 2:34 a.m .: Mental stress and symptoms in the corona pandemic have increased significantly among children and young people in Germany. “The majority of the studies conducted up to the second wave of the pandemic showed a relevant deterioration in the well-being and mental health of children and adolescents,” notes a team of authors from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in a recently published rapid review. For this purpose, 39 studies on the topic were evaluated. Compared to findings about the psychological stress in adults, children and adolescents have proven to be more vulnerable in the pandemic.

According to the evaluation in the “Journal of Health Monitoring”, the burden varied with the pandemic waves and the respective corona measures. This shows that children react sensitively “to the sometimes drastic changes in their environment”. A high degree of pandemic-related stress, increases in mental health problems and impairments in quality of life were reported from representative studies.

However, according to the RKI, the vast majority of studies related to the start of the pandemic up to the summer plateau of 2020. Overall, the authors see a lack of studies on child mental health during the pandemic. Many studies had some form of significant limitation. A shortcoming is mentioned, for example, that risk groups could only be identified to a limited extent.

From the RKI’s point of view, further, regularly conducted trend and cohort studies would be desirable. Such kind of monitoring would allow children’s mental health to be monitored as the pandemic progresses and beyond. Because the consequences of psychological stress often only become apparent later. According to the study, in the years before the pandemic, the frequency of mental health problems in children and adolescents tended to decrease.

Thursday, February 2, 5:30 a.m .: Anyone who travels by bus or train in Lower Saxony and Bremen no longer has to wear a mask since Thursday. Since February 2, a mask has also no longer been mandatory in long-distance transport, for example when traveling with Deutsche Bahn. The two federal states had announced the end of the mask requirement almost three weeks ago.

So far, the obligation to wear a surgical mask in local transport in Lower Saxony has applied – in the past, an FFP2 mask had to be worn. According to the Ministry of Health, people have had to wear a mask in local transport in Lower Saxony since the end of April 2020.

The mask requirement still applies in clinics, nursing homes, medical practices and other health facilities. This is regulated by the Federal Infection Protection Act, which is still dated until April 7th. In earlier times of the pandemic, masks were mandatory in significantly more areas – for example in shops, at events or at times at school.

6:27 a.m .: According to the findings of German researchers, people who have survived a Covid 19 infection have an autoimmune disease much more often than others. The basis is an extensive analysis of health insurance data. “Autoimmune diseases occurred significantly more frequently in all age and gender groups in the period after infection,” said Jochen Schmitt from the University Hospital Dresden.

According to the researchers, however, the results only relate to unvaccinated people who have had a proven corona infection with the wild type of the virus. There is currently no corresponding knowledge about other variants of the virus.

According to the analysis, there were 15.05 diagnoses of an autoimmune disease in people with corona infection per 1000 insured years, while in people without such an infection there were only 10.55 diagnoses. Patients with a more severe course of corona had a particularly high risk. Certain blood vessel inflammations showed the greatest associations with Covid-19. The results have not yet been published in a specialist journal.

Accounting data for the years 2019 to June 2021 from 38.9 million people with statutory health insurance from AOK Plus, Barmer, DAK-Gesundheit, IKK classic, Techniker Krankenkasse and company funds were evaluated. The analysis included data from 640,000 people with laboratory-proven Covid-19 disease in 2020, including 76,000 with pre-existing autoimmune diseases. Of the Covid patients who did not previously have an autoimmune disease, 6489 developed such a disease for the first time. Covid-infected and three non-infected people with similar characteristics were compared on the basis of 41 predefined diseases.

The study is part of a project funded by the Robert Koch Institute and the federal government on the long-term effects of Covid. So far, there have only been a few indications of autoimmune diseases caused by corona infections, the team writes. More research is needed to understand the connections between Covid-19 and these diseases, Schmitt said. “Future analyzes should focus on chronic diseases that arose during the pandemic.” Other researchers are currently discussing a connection between Covid-19 and a longer-lasting weakening of the immune system.

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