The federal and state governments are rationing PCR tests – politics

A few weeks before the expected peak of the omicron wave, the federal and state governments are sticking to the current contact restrictions, but at the same time are giving people hope for easing. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) agreed on Monday with the prime ministers of the federal states that the previous corona rules should continue to apply. However, the countries pleaded for the preparation of further measures if the health system is threatened to be overloaded. At the same time, the federal and state governments agreed in the video link to “develop opening perspectives for the moment when an overload of the health system can be ruled out”. At major events, the countries want to ensure uniformity.

Due to the sharp increase in corona infections, the federal and state governments are preparing for significant bottlenecks in PCR tests and want to react to them with prioritization. Mainly medical staff and high-risk patients should have access to PCR tests. A spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health announced that the details would be set “promptly” in a regulation. Employer President Rainer Dulger criticized the procedure. The shortage of PCR test capacities is “neither surprising nor inevitable”. Neighboring countries such as Austria have managed to increase test capacities at short notice. Also unacceptable is “the planned and partly already existing capitulation of the health authorities in terms of isolation and quarantine”.

The Chancellor and the country heads agreed to adapt the rules for hospitals and care facilities to the general regulations. For example, isolation after an infection can be ended after seven days with a certified rapid antigen test if the symptoms are 48 hours old. Without a test, it ends after ten days. There was anger before the federal and state round about new regulations for the status of those who had recovered and those who had been vaccinated. In the future, they should be announced and justified in good time before they come into force. Last week, the validity of the recovered status was unexpectedly shortened from six months to 90 days and it was determined that after an initial vaccination with Johnson & Johnson, full vaccination protection only applies with a second vaccination.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 63,393 new cases on Monday after 34,145 a week ago. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) expects the omicron wave to peak around mid-February. He estimates that the number of new infections could then rise to more than 600,000 per day. From the point of view of the World Health Organization (WHO), the acute phase of the corona pandemic could be ended with an international effort this year. Among other things, the vaccination gaps in poorer countries would have to be closed and more testing would have to be carried out, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday at a meeting of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva.

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