Health

Expert fears virus mutations could worsen pandemic in Germany

Berlin, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- President of the Robert Koch Institute for disease control, Dr Lothar Wieler, expressed his concerns Thursday over new and more infectious coronavirus mutations and the possible impact they could have in Germany.

German health authorities logged 1,244 Covid-19 deaths on Thursday, but Weiler said the potential impact of coronavirus variants in the evolution of the pandemic was as yet unknown.

“So there is a possibility that the situation will get worse,” he added.

Germany has reported 16 confirmed cases of the more contagious United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus and four cases of the South African variant, all of which were brought into the country.

The UK variant of the coronavirus, identified as B117, has been detected in 25 European countries, including Russia, said the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, on Thursday.

However, Weiler added that the data available so far does not suggest that the new variants have spread widely among the German population.

The expert said transmission levels can be easily reduced if people follow basic protocols for social distancing rules, hygiene practises, mask use and ventilation.

Weiler said more mutations of the coronavirus would likely arise, alluding to another variant detected in Brazil. He implored Germans to avoid unnecessary travel as to contain the spread of the variants.

He criticised the current restrictions saying there are still too many exceptions and measures are not strictly enforced.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and regional authorities last week agreed to extend the coronavirus restrictions already in place and tighten some of them.

Schools — with a few exceptions — and non-essential shops remain closed, along with limitations on leisure, sports and cultural activities.

Furthermore, residents in high-risk areas are limited to a fifteen-kilometer radius mobility limit from their homes.

Weiler predicts that by the end of 2021, Germany will have their pandemic under control — his optimism bolstered by the arrival of vaccines in large numbers.

The number of recorded Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began in Germany stands at 1,978,590 and the number of deaths is 43,881. EFE-EPA

egw/ah/jt

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