WIf he was infected with Corona, he had to be isolated for ten days, but was able to take a free test after seven days. Bavaria and Saxony have already reduced the deadline from ten to five days. After the meeting of the health ministers of the federal states on Thursday evening, the reduction of the isolation period to five days at the beginning of next week should be recommended by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Ministry of Health for all other federal states. However, the ministers have not taken a formal decision. They justified their project with increasing immunity in the population and with milder disease progression due to the omicron variant.

Heike Schmoll

Political correspondent in Berlin, responsible for “Bildungswelten”.

The earlier proposal by Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) to completely abandon the obligation to isolate, i.e. to rely on contamination, met with broad resistance from experts. The minister then withdrew him on a talk show and justified his change of heart by saying that abandoning the obligation to isolate sends a devastating signal. With his request for a free test after five days, Lauterbach was probably not able to assert himself.

“I personally believe that at the end of five days – that’s a very short time – at least one self-test should be strongly recommended,” Lauterbach said on Friday on ARD. Because you know “that many are still positive after the fifth day”. The chairwoman of the Marburger Bund physicians’ union, Susanne Johna, had also pointed out to the Funke media group that lifting the isolation after only five days only made sense if the test result was negative and you had been symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

According to data from the RKI, most corona infections in Germany are probably caused by the omicron subvariant BA.2. According to a sample from the week before last, their share was 97 percent. The previously dominant subtype BA.1 accounts for just under three percent. In view of the more than 750,000 cases reported within a week, the RKI speaks of a high infection pressure.

Kubicki criticized Drosten’s role

Meanwhile, the dispute has intensified over the committee of experts tasked with evaluating the epidemic situation of national scope that has been in place for several months. The review of the individual corona restrictions is provided for in the Infection Protection Act itself, which states: “The evaluation should be carried out by independent experts, half of whom are appointed by the Federal Government and half by the Bundestag”. So far, the Charité virologist Christian Drosten was also a member of the expert committee, but he left the committee at his own request.

He justified his resignation with the fact that the equipment and composition of the committee were not sufficient to be able to guarantee a scientifically high-quality evaluation. In addition, the contents of the confidential consultations have repeatedly become the subject of misleading and incorrect reporting in recent weeks. “From Prof. Drosten’s point of view, this stands in the way of constructive, targeted cooperation in the committee,” confirmed a spokeswoman for the Charité. Drosten remains on the Federal Government’s Expert Council, he is based at the Chancellery and presents recommendations for fighting the pandemic. The expert committee, on the other hand, is to submit a report to the federal government by the end of June, and the Bundestag is to receive the result of the evaluation by September 30.

Lauterbach, who described Drosten’s withdrawal as a serious loss, dismissed the accusation that Drosten was only withdrawing because he could not assess the corona measures, which he was involved in imposing as an adviser to the federal and state governments, as “wrong and malicious ” return. A few hours before Drosten’s resignation, the office of Deputy FDP Chairman Wolfgang Kubicki sent an inquiry to the Bundestag’s scientific service about the impartiality of experts who “were involved in the enactment of the measures to be evaluated”. Kubicki himself considers Drosten and probably also the Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck to be biased because they are supposed to evaluate measures “that they themselves helped to bring about”.

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