Status: 23.09.2023, 19:00 p.m.
By: Laura Knops
The number of corona infections is slowly increasing again. What we can expect in the coming months and how you can protect yourself.
After a rather relaxed summer, the number of infections with SARS-CoV-2 is slowly rising again, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). Many people are now wondering what to expect in autumn and winter. Although the virus is now classified as endemic after three years of the pandemic, seasonal handling of the corona virus has not yet become commonplace. Here you can find out how experts assess the upcoming cold season with COVID-19 and what the supply situation in this country looks like.
Rising infections: So far, the situation in hospitals has been stable
Experts expect the number of corona infections to rise. However, the situation in the clinics has been stable so far. © YAY Images/IMAGO
Unlike at the beginning of the pandemic, the situation in hospitals and especially in intensive care units seems to be stable so far. According to Stefan Kluge, Director of the Clinic for Intensive Care Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), about one percent of intensive care cases throughout Germany are corona patients. These are mainly elderly people or people with disorders of the immune system. "At the moment we have a stable situation in Hamburg and in Germany. There are isolated patients with Corona in hospital because they are admitted because of other medical problems," said Stefan Kluge in a press briefing with the Science Media Center Germany (SMC).
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The only striking thing is that more hospital staff and patients who have to be treated in the clinic for other diseases are becoming infected again. This could also be due to new corona variants that are now circulating. The World Health Organization (WHO) has placed the variants known as Eris (EG.5) and Pirola (Ba.2.86) under surveillance. Both are sublineages of Omicron.
New corona variants emerged: consequences for the supply situation?
So far, expert Sandra Ciesek, Director of the Institute of Medical Virology at the University Hospital Frankfurt, does not consider new corona variants such as the Piroler variant and Eris to be of concern. "Of course, it is to be expected that the virus will continue to evolve and take advantage of this if it can continue to adapt to humans. And that's probably what happened with the Piroler variant as well. And we just don't really know much about this variant yet. You have to wait a few more weeks before you can really judge what makes this variant so different. I myself have always said that as long as Omicron remains, I am relatively relaxed, because we have all already had Omicron, some have been vaccinated several times and thus there is still some protection against a severe course," explains Sandra Ciesek.
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Leif Erik Sander, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Charité Berlin, is also confident about the incidence of infection in autumn and winter: "We have vaccines that already protect the vast majority very well. We have built up a very strong immunity. That's why the mortality and danger of this virus for each individual has been significantly reduced compared to the time before we were vaccinated."
Corona variants: What pirola and eris mean for the infection process in autumn and winter
So far, it has been difficult to make predictions for autumn. How the situation develops in Germany and especially in hospitals depends on many factors. Nevertheless, the experts recommend the usual protective measures such as masks and social distancing in order to reduce the likelihood of infection for oneself and one's fellow human beings. While there are unlikely to be any nationwide protective measures, intensive care physician Stefan Kluge assumes that health facilities such as clinics will reintroduce mandatory masks in the fall.
In the coming cold season, more people are likely to become infected with the coronavirus again. In addition, the experts assume that the situation in hospitals could also become critical again. The shortage of skilled workers in the nursing sector, but also in medical practices, could be further exacerbated by Corona-related absences. "If more patients with flu, corona and other serious viral infections come in in autumn and winter, then we will have problems. Especially if the staff falls ill at the same time. That's what I'm most worried about," says Stefan Kluge.
This article contains only general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It is in no way a substitute for a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, individual questions about clinical pictures may not be answered by our editors.