Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) expects several hundred thousand new corona infections a day by mid-February.

With a view to realistic scenarios, it can be assumed “that the wave will peak around mid-February and that we will then have to expect several hundred thousand cases a day,” said Lauterbach on Wednesday evening in the ZDF program “Markus Lanz”.

It is not said that the scenarios will come about, but "they have the greatest probability".

Stress test for intensive care units

There are countries that could cope with such numbers with a view to the intensive care units, but the situation in Germany is different. "Since we have a high number of unvaccinated among the elderly in Germany, things can turn out very differently here than in Italy, France or England, for example," said Lauterbach. In England, for example, the number of unvaccinated people over the age of 50 is one to two percent. "These are values ​​that we can't get close to."

Regarding the falling hospitalization rate in Germany despite the currently high number of new infections, Lauterbach said that this was an “irrelevant snapshot” because the wave that is currently running in England and France is still coming in Germany.

"I would expect the right load in the intensive care units in mid or late February, that's still a month away and then I hope it will still look good," said Lauterbach.

"That's going to be the endurance test, not what we're seeing now."

Prioritization of the PCR tests

Lauterbach wants to present a regulation prioritizing the evaluation of PCR tests at the weekend. "We need good test rules so that we generally use the PCR tests for those where we have to be absolutely sure that they are either sick or they are healthy again. The ordinance will come for this at the weekend," said the SPD politician on the ZDF program. Employees in sensitive healthcare facilities should then be given preferential treatment. According to Lauterbach, the draft resolution should be decided at the Prime Ministers' Conference on Monday.

"It is very clear that the hospital employees, the nursing staff, the people who provide integration assistance, the people who care for the disabled, must be given special consideration," said Lauterbach.

In particular, it must also be ensured that those who return from isolation are no longer contagious.

A draft ordinance by the Federal Ministry of Health as of Tuesday afternoon states that, in view of the scarce capacities and drastically increasing infections, it is necessary that “a priority diagnosis of sample material from employees who have contact with particularly vulnerable groups of people is ensured”.

It is available to the German Press Agency, and the Bild newspaper first reported on it.

Specifically, laboratories should be obliged to give priority to examining samples from employees in clinics, nursing homes, facilities for people with disabilities and the respective outpatient services.

According to the draft, the employees should demonstrate a corresponding activity at the test center.

The test centers should then note the prioritization in the form sent to the laboratory.