Due to the persistently high number of infections in the Omicron wave, German medium-sized companies are suffering from increased staff shortages.

One in four of the small and medium-sized companies reported problems in business operations in March - almost as many as at the beginning of the pandemic and 10 percentage points more than in September.

The KfW development bank announced this on Tuesday on the basis of a regular special corona survey as part of its SME panel, which included the answers from around 2,400 companies.

Britta Beeger

Editor in Business.

  • Follow I follow

Philip Pickert

Business correspondent based in London.

  • Follow I follow

On the one hand, the staff shortages are due to the fact that parts of the workforce themselves fall ill with Corona or have to be quarantined, but on the other hand also due to school or day-care center closures.

According to the KfW survey, industry is particularly affected, where home office is difficult to implement.

56 percent of the particularly research and development-intensive sectors of the manufacturing industry - such as mechanical engineering, vehicle construction and medical technology - complained about the negative consequences of the pandemic-related employee absences.

In the other sectors of the manufacturing industry, it was an above-average 38 percent.

Last week, the Barmer health insurance company reported that so many people in Germany had never been unable to work because of Corona as they are at the moment.

This is also noticeable in the hospitals, which are postponing operations that can sometimes be planned again due to the quarantine and isolation of their doctors and nurses.

According to the German Hospital Society, 90 percent of the clinics recently had higher sickness-related staff absences than is usual at this time of year, which put them “in considerable distress”.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, individual trains are canceled this week due to the large number of corona cases at Deutsche Bahn.

Flight cancellations in the UK

In the UK, the wave of new omicron subvariant BA.2 has resulted in hundreds of thousands being absent from their jobs after testing positive.

The airlines British Airways and Easy Jet had to cancel more than 200 flights due to staff shortages.

In the beginning of the Easter holidays there was chaos at some airports.

In Scotland, trains stopped because the drivers were missing.

The ONS statistics office estimated that up to 4.9 million Britons were infected in the penultimate week of March.

Since then, the wave could have passed its peak, the daily new case numbers show.

The registered seven-day incidence has fallen below 800 again, in January it was over 2000. While in January it was mainly workers who were affected, office workers are now increasingly affected.

In the City of London, bankers and lawyers reported canceled meetings and conferences.

The industry association Make UK announced at the weekend that the number of corona cases in its member companies was now greater than ever before.

Most of the corona restrictions in Great Britain were lifted at the end of January.

The legal obligation to go into quarantine with a positive test ended in March.

According to the government's latest recommendations, people with Covid symptoms should "try to stay at home and avoid contact with others until they feel well enough to resume normal activities".

In Germany, the federal and state health ministers also decided on Monday that people infected with corona will no longer have to go into isolation from May 1st - the new rules should instead be voluntary.

Infected people are strongly recommended to isolate themselves for five days and avoid contacts, said Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD).

The same applies to contact persons.

This should also avoid mass staff shortages when the number of infections is high.

So far, the secretions have usually lasted ten days and can be ended with a negative test after seven days.

The Robert Koch Institute reported 180,397 new corona cases in Germany on Tuesday.

The nationwide seven-day incidence dropped below 1400.