Germany’s smallest and least populous federal state has the highest vaccination rate nationwide, but it is currently faced with the highest infection rate of any region in the country, spurred by the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The maritime state of Bremen, located in the north of Germany, has nearly 84 percent of its population double-jabbed, compared with a national figure of around 72 percent, news agency Reuters reported.
Roughly 44 percent of the small German state with fewer than 700,000 people have received a COVID-19 booster shot, compared to a similar national number—42 percent.
The seven-day infection rate in Bremen stood at 800 cases per 100,000 residents on Jan. 6, the highest in Germany and more than double the national rate of 303, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
Bremen also has a high hospitalization rate of 14.56 per 100,000, German news channel ZDF reported, though hospitals are not as burdened as they were in the first three waves of the CCP virus pandemic as patients infected with the new variant were coming in with milder symptoms, said Lukas Fuhrmann, spokesperson for Bremen’s health senate.
The RKI assumes that the Omicron variant, which was first noticed in South Africa last year, will become the predominant CCP virus strain in the coming days. Omicron now accounts for more than 85 percent of CCP virus infections in Bremen, well above the national figure of around 44 percent, according to the latest data from the RKI.
Hajo Zeeb, a professor of the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen, linked the increase in cases to the protection from COVID-19 vaccines waning.
Zeeb also said that Bremen’s location near the Netherlands and Denmark, where Omicron has already become the dominant variant, could be another reason for the higher infection rate in the state.
Meanwhile, German leaders agreed on Friday to tighten restrictions for the hospitality sector and decided to shorten quarantine and self-isolation periods for people who have agreed to get a booster.
Under the new rules, only Germans who have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from the disease, and are able to provide a negative test, are allowed to access restaurants for a sit-down meal. Those who have received a booster shot don’t have to present a negative test.
“It’s a strict rule, but it’s a necessary one that will help us better control infections [in the future] than is currently the case,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday as he confirmed the new CCP virus protocols.
Horst Egger, a Berlin steak house owner, said it would make more sense to close the restaurant for a month than to keep it open with all the curbs.
“When guests come, there is usually someone who is not vaccinated. So we have to send the three or four people away again,” Egger, who has been in the gastronomy business since 1979, said.
Reuters contributed to this report