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Ruh-roh: Coronavirus R-rate surges back in Germany, new lockdown planned in Israel

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water:

Germany’s coronavirus R number has leapt again – from 1.79 on Saturday to 2.88 on Sunday, official figures show.

The Robert Koch Institute for public health (RKI), which has been publishing the country’s COVID-19 statistics, said the new number is based on a four-day average. On Friday it was 1.06.

The R number refers to the reproductive rate of the disease. A figure of 2.88 means that for every 100 people who contract coronavirus, another 288 are likely to become infected too.

Germany’s not the only place where limited re-openings have seen a fresh surge, either. Texas and Florida, which led the USA in re-opening, are having their difficulties too:

Texas health officials on Saturday reported a record of more than 4,400 new coronavirus cases in the state and 25 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

A total of 107,735 confirmed cases, an increase of 4,430 from Friday, and 2,165 deaths, up from 2,140, were reported Saturday.

Officials had reported 3,454 new cases on Friday after a previous record of 3,516 were reported on Thursday.

And in Israel, which declared victory over the first wave of Coronavirus a few months ago, things are spiralling, too:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that due to the spike in coronavirus cases, Israel’s coronavirus cabinet is considering ‘dramatically’ increasing enforcement, including more fines and inspectors. After the meeting, Netanyahu added that another option being considered is restricting public gatherings: “A very harsh step that has implications on certain activities we have approved.”

The second wave has long been forewarned, of course, and to be fair, there are reasons to look on the bright side, at least in the case of Germany and Israel. In both those countries, the outbreaks seem contained to specific sectors – factory workers in Germany, and schools in Israel.

But there are reasons to be concerned, also. For one thing, this second wave comes in the height of summer in both countries, and you’ve all heard the yarns about how the virus would die off in the summer. It hasn’t, so far.

For another thing, localised outbreaks are what they have now, but that might represent detection lag. We don’t know how far the students, or factory workers, have spread it before being diagnosed.

Finally, there’s the case of Texas and Florida, where the second wave seems to be a much more generalised outbreak (and also, worth noting, a generalised outbreak in two very hot states at this time of the year).

In Israel, they’re considering re-introducing lockdown. In Texas, the hospital system is close to being overwhelmed.

As Gript’s resident Coronavirus pessimist, let me therefore say: Enjoy your freedom while you have it. Lockdown 2 might be closer than you think.

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