Since the beginning of the Corona crisis in Germany at the beginning of 2020, short-time work has caused costs of around 42 billion euros, said the head of the Federal Labor Office (BA), Detlef Scheele. “Should the crisis come to an end this year, it might have been 46 billion euros in the end,” he told the Düsseldorf newspaper “Rheinische Post”. This is “money well spent,” stressed Scheele. The increase in the number of unemployed would have become “up to three times more expensive”. The current development in short-time work is also better than expected at the end of 2021. “The numbers for short-time work are not as high as we had forecast at the beginning of the fourth corona wave in November.” On average for 2022, “we are heading for a good 300,000 people on short-time work”.
The Federal Agency’s deficit at the end of the year will, however, exceed the sum of one billion euros that has been calculated so far, explained the BA boss. The contribution to unemployment insurance will rise to 2.6 percent in 2023 as planned, but will not have to be increased further thereafter.
Incidence decreases again
In Germany, meanwhile, both the nationwide seven-day incidence and the number of new infections with the corona virus are falling. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) gave the incidence per 100,000 inhabitants and week on Saturday morning as 1350. The previous day the value was 1372. A week ago, the seven-day incidence was 1474. The health authorities in Germany reported 189,105 new corona infections within one day. A week ago there were 209,789 infections. However, experts assume a high number of cases that are not recorded in the RKI data. Test capacities and health authorities are at the limit in many places, contacts are only traced to a limited extent.
Across Germany, 210 deaths were recorded within 24 hours. A week ago there were 198 deaths. The RKI has counted 13,445,094 proven infections with SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning of the pandemic. The actual total number is likely to be significantly higher, as many infections go undetected. The number of corona-infected patients in the clinics per 100,000 inhabitants within seven days was 6.24 on Friday. On Thursday it was 5.97. Among them are many people with a positive corona test who have another main illness.
WHO: Pandemic not over yet
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against prematurely declaring the corona pandemic over. In some countries there is a high vaccination rate combined with the omicron variant being less dangerous, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference. This feeds the dangerous narrative that the pandemic is over. “But that’s not true,” he insisted. Not when 70,000 people are dying each week from a preventable and treatable disease. Not if 83 percent of Africa’s population hadn’t even received a first dose of the vaccine. Not when health systems are still groaning under the number of cases. And not when there is a highly transmissible virus circulating almost unchecked. The WHO Director-General warned that the conditions are ideal for even more transmissible, dangerous variants to emerge.
However, the pandemic can be ended as a global health emergency – the tools and the know-how are available, according to the WHO boss. In this context, Tedros renewed the WHO goal of collecting 16 billion dollars, in particular from rich countries, in order to make vaccines, tests, medicines and masks available in poorer countries in a targeted manner.
Better protection for journalists
In view of the increasing threats to journalists during protests against the Corona measures, many federal states are increasing their protective measures for media professionals. In several countries, the German authorities now offer special protection zones or “safe spaces” at rallies, from which journalists can report safely. This was the result of a survey by the Evangelical Press Service among the state interior ministries and state criminal investigation offices. The police in Saxony, where a particularly large number of relevant criminal offenses were registered last year with 27 cases, deploy so-called media protection teams if necessary to protect reporters directly.
In January, the German Association of Journalists complained about an increase in violent attacks on press representatives during “lateral thinker” campaigns. The association explained that media professionals were threatened, spat on and attacked by demonstrators, among other things. He called on politicians and security authorities to provide better protection for journalists.
kle/se (afp, dpa, epd)