Germany drops plan to relax COVID-19 quarantine rules

BERLIN: Germany will not end mandatory quarantine for most people who catch COVID-19 after all, the health minister said on Wednesday (Apr 6), reversing course after concerns were raised that lifting quarantine restrictions would drive even higher infections.

“Coronavirus is not a cold. That is why there must continue to be isolation after an infection,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Twitter, adding he had made a mistake by suggesting an end to mandatory quarantine.

Under the existing rules, people with COVID-19 must quarantine for at least seven days. Lauterbach suggests last week a shift to a voluntary five days of self-isolation with the recommendation of a COVID-19 test at the end of that period.

The idea of ​​ending quarantine, except for medical staff, had emerged after COVID-19 cases soared in recent weeks, hitting staffing in hospitals and many other workplaces.

Daily infections have fallen in the last week or so, with 214,985 new infections reported on Wednesday, about 20 per cent fewer than a week ago. That took total cases since the pandemic began beyond 22 million, with 130,708 deaths.

Germany has been discussing making vaccinations mandatory although support for the idea has waned as the Omicron variant has led to fewer cases of severe illness, with only those over 60 likely to be compelled to get a shot from October.

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