Fevering children and coughing adults: In Germany, many people are currently suffering from respiratory infections and the flu. The current news at a glance.
Influenza: 20,407 reported infections (in the week from 12/26/2022 to 01/01/2023)
In the previous week, the value of reported infections was 48,560.
More information about influenza viruses and vaccination can be found here.
Note: The reports are sent to the RKI on a weekly basis. We update the registration numbers continuously. This can also result in corrections and late registrations for registration weeks that have already passed.
Flu season is the period when influenza viruses are common. In Germany, the flu season usually begins at the beginning of October and lasts until mid-May. The annual flu season is the time when there is increased influenza activity. The highest level of infections is usually measured in January and then lasts for another three to four months.
Influenza viruses are more stable in cool temperatures and dry air. Researchers assume that the mucous membrane of the upper respiratory tract is more susceptible to infections in dry air and the immune system is less resistant in winter than in summer.
In addition, people often spend longer periods of time in less well-ventilated rooms with other people in winter. In order to cause an influenza epidemic, there must first be a sufficiently large number of susceptible people in the population and there must be a sufficiently large entry of infectious patients into the susceptible population.
In Europe, reports of increased influenza activity (flu wave) are often first reported in the south-western countries of Europe (e.g. Spain and Portugal) in the winter months, before such reports arrive from Central and Eastern Europe.
Cough, runny nose, sore throat – many people in Germany are currently catching a cold. It is often unclear which pathogen is behind it. A new combination test should now remedy the situation. It shows if you have Covid-19, flu or RSV. Here’s the background.
In addition to the flu, the RS virus is also currently spreading, particularly among children. The disease is not dangerous for adults – but RSV can be life-threatening for infants and small children. Doctors are currently complaining about a rapid increase in cases. What symptoms should parents watch out for now?
Thursday, January 5, 3:10 p.m .: The number of flu infections has risen sharply in Brandenburg this season. From the start of the flu season on October 3rd to the New Year, 11,185 cases of influenza were registered, compared to 18 cases in the same period last year, as the Ministry of Health announced on Thursday, citing figures from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
After an extremely sharp increase in the number of flu cases nationwide since the end of November, the number of cases has fallen significantly since Christmas, according to the RKI. Nevertheless, the number of cases was well above the figures for the previous season. In the penultimate week of last year, 2710 cases were reported in Brandenburg, in the previous year there was 1 case in this calendar week. There have already been 7 deaths this season, no one died from flu in the same period last season.
Most influenza cases were registered in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district with 1110, followed by the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district (1035). The city of Brandenburg/Havel recorded the fewest cases with 218.
According to the RKI, influenza viruses were predominantly circulating at the end of the year, followed by RSV. The positive rate for the corona virus was 10 percent.
Wednesday, January 4th, 7:44 p.m .: According to experts from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the spread of acute respiratory diseases in Germany has decreased in the last two weeks of the past year. However, despite the decline, the values are still above the values of previous years, as stated in the weekly report of the RKI’s influenza working group on Wednesday evening.
According to the report, a total of around 6.4 million acute respiratory diseases in the population in the past week are assumed – regardless of a doctor’s visit. “Influenza viruses continue to cause the majority of acute respiratory diseases,” writes the RKI. The persistent activity of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also leads to doctor visits and hospital admissions, particularly in children under the age of two.
The flu wave in Germany started early this time: according to the RKI definition, in the week up to October 30th. In the two previous winters, there were largely no waves due to the pandemic and the measures taken to counteract it. Experts therefore feared more susceptible people in the population.
Tuesday, January 3, 3:00 a.m.: The CSU in the Bundestag is calling for a rapid “Children-Sick Summit” to take measures against the current bottlenecks in children’s hospitals, pediatricians and the supply of medicines. This emerges from a draft resolution for the forthcoming retreat of the CSU state group in the Upper Bavarian monastery of Seeon.
“This winter we are experiencing a wave of children’s illnesses with many viral diseases, which particularly affect the youngest children and sometimes make them seriously ill,” says the paper that is available to the German Press Agency and about which the newspapers of the “Media Group Bavaria” had reported. At the same time, important medicines for children are not available in pharmacies, pediatric practices are overloaded and children’s clinics are overcrowded. “We want a children’s sick summit to be convened immediately in order to take measures to remedy this intolerable emergency situation as quickly as possible,” the CSU in the Bundestag demands.
“In addition, we want improved financial resources for children’s hospitals, so that the reduction in children’s hospital beds can be reversed, especially in rural areas,” the paper says. The Bundestag CSU therefore advocates additional special funding for children’s clinics and departments. In order to counteract future bottlenecks in the supply of medicines, a reserve for children’s medicines should be built up, among other things.
Friday, December 30, 3:20 p.m .: In Thuringia, more than twice as many influenza cases have been registered in the current flu season as in the last violent flu wave in 2019/2020 combined. It has been proven that 19,362 people have fallen ill so far, as the Ministry of Health announced on Friday. Around 9,300 cases were counted throughout the 2019/2020 season. At that time, Thuringia had been hit by one of the most violent flu waves in recent years. In the corona pandemic, protective measures such as compulsory masks, school and kindergarten closures prevented major flu outbreaks.
After the highest weekly figure so far with more than 5,100 cases in the fourth week of Advent, the number of new cases in the Christmas week fell to around 3,100. That could possibly be explained by the holiday effect, said a ministry spokesman. For example, no major flu outbreaks were registered in schools or kindergartens. The Christmas holidays in Thuringia began on December 22nd. According to the ministry, it is still too early to assess whether the wave has actually peaked.
However, the officially recorded numbers only provide an incomplete overview of the actual infection process. As a rule, only diseases confirmed by laboratory diagnostics are reported. However, many doctors do without such a diagnosis because of the usually clear clinical symptoms. Accordingly, a certain number of unreported cases can be assumed.
Thursday, December 29, 1:31 p.m.: Anyone who wants to be vaccinated against the flu can book appointments from this Friday via the state’s Internet portal at impftermin-bw.de or by telephone on 0800 2822 7291. Vaccination against influenza is recommended in the southwest for all age groups as part of the approval, the statutory health insurance companies cover the costs, as the Ministry of Health announced on Thursday in Stuttgart. “The flu wave is in full swing in Baden-Württemberg and the number of sick leave is increasing.”
According to the information, it takes about two weeks to build up the full vaccination protection against influenza. This then persists through the flu season, which usually peaks in February and March. “Take this seriously,” warned Health Minister Manne Lucha (Greens) according to the announcement. “The real flu, influenza, is not a simple cold, but a serious illness.” Now is still the right time for vaccination. The minister called on doctors and pharmacies to enter many appointments for flu vaccinations in the portal.
Appointments for corona vaccinations can still be booked via the website impftermin-bw.de. “Use the expansion of our vaccination appointment portal and kill two birds with one stone,” said Lucha. From a medical point of view, you can be vaccinated against corona and flu at the same time.
The second booster vaccination against Covid-19 is particularly recommended for people over 60 years of age. The vaccines adapted to the omicron variant of the virus are available nationwide. From January 1st, medical practices, dental practices and pharmacies will take over all corona vaccinations in Baden-Württemberg. The country’s vaccination centers and mobile vaccination teams should then no longer exist.
Wednesday, December 28, 8:42 a.m .: Minister of Health Clemens Hoch (SPD) has asked people from Rhineland-Palatinate who want to be vaccinated to have the injection against the influenza virus now. “We see a very high level of conspicuousness with the influenza,” said the minister in an interview with the German Press Agency in Mainz. “Corona is now not really worse than the other respiratory diseases in terms of individual exposure.” In addition – scientifically proven – there is almost 100 percent initial immunization of the population. “There is practically no one left in Germany who has not somehow come into contact with the corona virus, either through vaccination or through infection.”
“The accumulation is difficult at the moment,” emphasized Hoch, with a view to influenza, RS virus and other cold infections. “We are also seeing an increase in corona infections in the hospitals, not necessarily in the intensive care units.” Above all, the flu leads to a high level of sick leave: “A lot of people are sick in companies and hospitals right now and that has nothing to do with corona to do.” The result is staff shortages in hospitals and emergency rooms.
Tuesday, December 27, 7:30 a.m.: The President of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, Martina Wenker, has called for employees to be treated with respect in the tense situation in the health care system. “It is an absolute misdevelopment that private security services are now necessary in hospital emergency rooms,” said the doctor of the German Press Agency. After almost three years of the pandemic, many people are exhausted. “Now there is no medication. But this frustration must not be taken out on those who work with all their might in the healthcare sector and are already at the limit or beyond,” emphasized Wenker.
“I look forward to the next few days and weeks with great concern,” said the President of the Medical Association. The practices are extremely burdened by the wave of respiratory infections and flu. Recently, many patients with injuries after falls have been added due to black ice. “Even the rescue services and emergency rooms are already overloaded.” Wenker appealed to refrain from firecrackers on New Year’s Eve. “I’m against the firecrackers, if only because of the fine dust pollution, which particularly affects people with respiratory diseases,” said the pulmonary specialist. In addition, injuries with burns from fireworks are to be feared.
The sick leave among employees in the healthcare sector is high – both in the clinics and among the resident doctors. In addition, some practices close between the years. “We have no reserves of personnel,” emphasized Wenker. “That’s why a little praise from the patient every now and then would be nice instead of asking: ‘When will it be my turn?'” Insults and assaults are absolutely unacceptable.
The Medical Association of Lower Saxony has long advocated a central reporting system for attacks on medical staff and rescue services. The point “Ensure safety at work” is one of ten core demands of the medical profession to the new red-green state government. The increase in physical attacks and verbal abuse must be stopped, the medical association said in May. In addition to the central reporting system, the incidents would have to be processed in a structured manner – including criminal prosecution if possible.
Saturday, December 24, 9:35 a.m .: According to calculations by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), the current severe wave of influenza could cause up to 40 billion euros in economic costs in Germany if it lasts a long time. “The loss of work due to illness alone could result in a loss in gross value added of more than 30 billion euros for the German economy and, in the event of a very unfavorable course, even more than 40 billion euros,” quoted the “Welt am Sonntag” from the calculations.
How high the costs due to the loss of work actually are depends largely on the duration of the influenza wave. According to the report, in a pessimistic scenario, the institute expects the disease to last into the third week of April 2023 and by then to be 50 percent higher than in the last severe flu wave in winter 2017/18.
In this scenario, up to 650,000 cases of influenza would be feared. If this scenario occurs, the gross national income could drop by more than 40 billion euros, the newspaper reported from the calculations of the IfW.
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