Pandemic hospitalization rates as new Corona thresholds: How they work – and what the criticisms are
In the future, the number of hospital admissions will be a hard indicator for the fight against the Corona pandemic.
Berlin It is the new yardstick for corona measures in Germany: In the future, the level of the hospitalization rate will decide on extensive contact restrictions in the federal states. What applies when? An overview.
What the hospitalization rate means
For hospitalization rates, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) records the reported hospital admissions of corona patients per 100.000 inhabitants in a seven-day period. Currently, the value nationwide is 5.7, while the highest value measured to date was 15 last winter. It is currently highest in states such as Thuringia (18.5) and Saxony-Anhalt (11.9), where hospitals are reaching their limits. In Hamburg, it is the lowest at 1.6.
In August, the federal and state governments decided that the hospitalization rate should replace the incidence rate as the new indicator, since the rising vaccination rate made the number of cases less meaningful for the utilization of intensive care beds. Since then, the value has already been used in many federal states as the basis for so-called Corona traffic lights, which also include parameters such as the vaccination rate or incidence values.
These Corona traffic lights will now be standardized and tailored to the hospitalization rate. In Baden-Wurttemberg, for example, the lowest warning level is eight, and the last level applies at a value of twelve. The values now set by the federal and state governments are much stricter.
Find the best jobs now and
be notified by e-mail.
Which limits will apply in the future
Specifically, if a threshold of 3 is exceeded, the states are to introduce area-wide access rules only for vaccinated and recovered persons (2G) to events and the catering industry, for example – if this has not already been done. In addition, if a value of 6 is exceeded, the states should require additional testing or other measures in certain facilities, even for vaccinated and recovered patients (2G plus).
At the latest when the threshold of 9 is exceeded, the countries should then make use of more far-reaching restrictions. This is aimed at a clause passed by the Bundestag: According to a corresponding state parliament resolution, the states should also be able to impose harsher measures such as contact restrictions or restrictions and bans on events.
Criticism from experts
Leipzig epidemiologist Markus Scholz believes the thresholds are "set far too high" and the associated measures are too minor to reverse the trend.
"In Saxony, for example, the threshold of 9 has not yet been reached, yet the healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse, which is why a new lockdown is now necessary," Scholz told Handelsblatt newspaper. Because the intensive care capacities in the federal states also differ, the hospitalization rates are not necessarily comparable with each other.
Scholz believes that an immediate nationwide 2G-plus rule is necessary and that all major events should be cancelled. In addition, he said, the child and adolescent sector must be much better protected, as this is where the highest incidences are observed.
"The countless outbreaks show that schools are not sufficiently safe with high incidences in attendance. Vaccinations, indoor air filtration systems, flexible models for reduced group sizes and uniform quarantine rules are still lacking," said Scholz.
In addition, the level of the limit values – like the incidence values in the previous waves – are not based on scientific findings, but are purely political decisions.
There is no data or experience that puts measures in relation to the hospitalization rate. This also means that the limits can be set upwards or downwards, just as the incidence limits have already been set – and can be supplemented by new measures. This bears the risk of appearing arbitrary and thus undermining the understanding in the population for the partly far-reaching cuts.
In addition to this criticism of the level of the thresholds, there is also criticism of the collection of hospitalization rates in general. An NDR investigation showed at the beginning of October that the actual value was significantly higher than the originally reported value, since the Corona cases were reported by the hospitals, in part with considerable delay.
Completely open is also the question, how the measures can be controlled at all, which go along with the degree meter. Up to now, there has been far too little control, as the federal and state governments have also stated in their resolution.
For the stricter controls the countries are to "exhaust" the fine frameworks, for their part increase the control density and sanction violations decidedly, it is said in the resolution. However, retailers, restaurateurs, and even public transport operators have already pointed out that they cannot possibly ensure nationwide control.