German states abolish isolation requirements for coronavirus patients

On Wednesday, the state governments of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria abolished the isolation requirement for people infected with the coronavirus. The Land of Schleswig-Holstein followed suit on Thursday. The Land of Hesse plans to do the same in the coming weeks.

The abolition of the obligation of isolation is a political crime which gives free rein to the coronavirus. Millions of people will be infected with the virus and will suffer long-term consequences as a result of this decision. A significant number will fall seriously ill, end up in hospital or even die.

The end of the isolation requirement is not only a further relaxation of the rules, but essentially means the end of all protective measures against the coronavirus and the complete adoption of the right-wing “herd immunity” policy. , that is, the deliberate and permanent prohibition of mass infection of the population. This policy is justified by the argument that the coronavirus is ultimately nothing more than a flu.

This argument can only be called criminal. Worldwide, more than 20 million people have already died from the coronavirus pandemic. In Germany, more than 1,000 people still die every week from COVID-19, more than double the most severe flu wave of 2017/18.

Additionally, COVID-19 is caused by a virus that can attack almost any organ in the body, even in a seemingly harmless case. Between 10 and 30% of infected people develop Long COVID, which is not yet considered curable. Symptoms, ranging from fatigue to racing heartbeat, all have a profound impact on the quality of life of those affected.

Recent studies show that multiple COVID-19 infections, which will inevitably occur as a result of this mass infection policy, greatly increase the risk of long and fatal COVID, as well as reduce life expectancy. .

If left to spread unchecked, the coronavirus is able to mutate in a short time, bypassing vaccine protection. This is shown by the spread of the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants, which already officially account for 12% of infections in Germany. Both subvariants have such high immune leakage that vaccinations and antibodies from previous infections or immunizations have little or no effect against them.

A crowded BVG bus in Berlin, Germany. [Photo: WSWS]

Treating the coronavirus like the flu means consciously accepting mass mortality and significant damage to the health of the population. Nevertheless, other German states are already considering following the example of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein.

The Hessian state government plans to lift the isolation requirement soon. State Health Minister Kai Klose (Green Party) cynically described the protective measure as a “relatively serious health intervention”.

Berlin does not rule out repealing isolation requirements after the current coronavirus regulations expire on December 21. Thus, Health Senator Ulrike Gote (Green Party) said that there are ‘good arguments that infected people without symptoms should not necessarily self-isolate.’ The coalition government (Christian Democrats, CDU; Social Democrats, SPD and Greens) in the Land Government of Saxony and the Left Party-led coalition (with SPD and Greens) in the Land of Thuringia have made similar statements. The three states are pushing for a unified approach of all federal states.

With the end of the isolation requirement for infected persons, all other remaining preventive measures must be abandoned. Schleswig-Holstein plans to phase out the mandatory mask requirement on buses and trains by the end of the year and calls on other state governments to do the same. Bavaria has already signaled its approval. For example, Minister-President Markus Söder (Christian Social Union, CSU, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party) said: “It is difficult to understand why there is a mask requirement on trains but not on planes. “

At the federal level, health policy spokesman for the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, echoed the proposal, arguing for a “mask recommendation instead of a mask requirement”. .

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has criticized the relaxation of coronavirus regulations in recent days, but his criticism is as cynical as it is misleading. He helped draft the Infection Protection Act, which already repealed much of the measures in August and gave state governments the ability to prepare for an even more sweeping abolition of protective measures.

Especially on the quarantine issue, Lauterbach’s role as the “main infector” was evident. In early April, he himself offered to lift the quarantine requirement. He eventually backed down due to massive public backlash. Nonetheless, on April 28, the federal and state governments—with Lauterbach’s backing—reduced the isolation period to five days.

The figures available clearly show that the pandemic is still raging. Every week, around 7,500 people are hospitalized nationwide in Germany and more than 1,000 people die. There were 86 outbreaks and 24 deaths in medical treatment facilities last week, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the government agency responsible for health. In nursing homes and retirement homes, there were 296 outbreaks and 135 deaths.

Clinics are expected to be overloaded and possibly collapse completely in winter due to increased hospitalizations, staff absences due to infections and power shortages following the economic war against Russia. In the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, for example, the chairman of the hospital working group warned last week: “The shortage of specialists, the competing legislation at federal and state level and, last but not least, the The coronavirus pandemic and the energy crisis are going to make it difficult for hospitals to fulfill their care mandate over the coming year.

The spread of the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 variants, also known as “Cerberus” (Hellhound), will only exacerbate this situation. BQ.1 currently represents 4% of infections and BQ1.1 more than 8% (4% the previous week). However, since these values ​​are transmitted to the RKI with a delay of several weeks, it can be assumed that they already represent a much higher proportion of infections in Germany.

Workers and young people should understand the lifting of the isolation requirement in this context as a deadly warning: having already accepted tens of millions of pandemic victims worldwide – including more than 156,000 in Germany – the class leader now wants to prolong the suffering and death caused by the virus in perpetuity.

To end the pandemic, a strategy is needed to eliminate the virus in the world. At the same time, billions must be invested in health, secure jobs and education. Such a policy, however, is at odds with the interests of governments that put profits before human lives. A fight against the pandemic therefore requires a fight against capitalism and for a socialist transformation of society.

James R. Rhodes