Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach has shown himself confident that he can convince the coalition partner FDP to extend the Infection Protection Act and the obligation to wear masks.

With a view to a possibly more critical corona situation in autumn, the SPD politician said on Thursday evening on ZDF that Germany will “definitely be on September 23. have an Infectious Disease Control Act, which gives us the preparations we need.”

Self-government, telematics, Morbi-RSA: The briefing on health

The previous legal basis for the protective measures will expire on September 23. With a view to the mask requirement and the FDP, Lauterbach added: “I think we’ll come to an agreement there.” The FDP, which wants as few corona protection measures as possible, insists on waiting for several expert reports on this first.

In addition, Lauterbach stated that he considers the omicron subvariant, which is currently spreading rapidly in Portugal, to be “more contagious and dangerous” than the original omicron variant BA1. With regard to the upcoming autumn, he said: “We may have similar problems later (…) It could well be the variant we have to fight with in the autumn.”

Currently, the proportion of the sub-variant in Germany is five percent. With a view to the corona preparations for the fall, Lauterbach explained that, among other things, vaccines that work against different variants had been ordered and that the vaccination centers would continue to be funded. “Preparation is in full swing,” he said.

The Prime Ministers of the federal states and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) agreed on Thursday to take early precautions for a more critical corona situation in autumn. Scholz then said that all options for action that were needed should be available – but there should no longer be comprehensive closures of schools and daycare centers.

The state health ministers had unanimously put together a possible catalog with mask requirements indoors and access rules such as 2G and 3G (access only for vaccinated, recovered or tested people).

Green health expert Janosch Dahmen welcomed the joint intention of the federal and state governments. In addition to a targeted vaccination campaign and test strategy, better data is particularly important, said the member of the Bundestag of the German Press Agency.

In the federal states, the focus must be on rapid digitization in the public health service and on up-to-date data – for example on the availability of hospital beds that can be operated and on the capacities of emergency rooms and rescue services.

The German District Association also called “mask requirements indoors and in public transport, possibly also contact restrictions”. States and municipalities should not have their hands tied if it becomes necessary locally, said district council president Reinhard Sager at the editorial network Germany (RND).

The German Foundation for Patient Protection called for the free citizen tests in test centers to be extended beyond June. At the moment, more than 100 people die from or with Corona every day, said board member Eugen Brysch to the RND. The federal states had already asked the federal government at the Prime Ministers’ Conference to continue funding the free citizen tests.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the steady decline in the number of cases could be stopped for the time being: the institute announced on Thursday evening that it was stagnating in the current week. The proportion of the omicron subline BA.5 is doubling from week to week – albeit at a low level: According to the RKI, it is 5.2 percent.

Dahmen said that as a doctor, he was also particularly concerned about the current international spread of other respiratory diseases, including those caused by influenza viruses. “Even without new, more dangerous corona virus variants, this could lead to another severe stress test in the health system in Germany in autumn.” It is therefore right that all countries have committed to a science-based preventive course when preparing for autumn.

Virologist Klaus Stöhr, on the other hand, sees no danger and accuses Lauterbach of scaremongering. “This includes this whole threat scenario, which the Ministry of Health is building up again,” he told the Welt television station. It is possible that the BA.5 virus variant, as in Portugal, will lead to a renewed increase in cases. “On asymptomatic cases, but not in the intensive care units, not in the hospitals – there is complete relaxation.”