Press Release from the Hessen State Government from July 1, 2021
As in most regions in Hessen, declining incidence figures have been observed in Wiesbaden in recent days and weeks. This is also accompanied by increased relaxations for the opening of retail and gastronomy as well as touristic offers. “The easing due to the falling incidences represents a comforting step towards normality,” said Mayor and Head of the Health Department Dr. Oliver Franz. Nevertheless, a conscious approach to the pandemic is still crucial.
Experts are monitoring the spread of the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 worldwide and in other European countries. “Studies from Great Britain show that the infectivity of the Delta variant is much higher than that of the Alpha variant, which is currently dominant in Germany,” says Professor Christoph Sarrazin from the St. Josefs Hospital in Wiesbaden, commenting on the infection process. Whether the Delta variant of the virus could promote a more severe course of the disease is not yet certain.
“However, since the infections are also asymptomatic in the Delta variant and can therefore remain undetected for longer, we recommend that Wiesbaden citizens do not fall into leniency too early and, if possible, continue to follow the usual AHA+L (distance, hygiene, ventilation, mask) rules in order to protect themselves and others from illness,” says Sarrazin.
The Wiesbaden health department has been notified of the first cases of infections with the Delta variant in recent months. In order to get a better picture of the spread of this virus variant, random PCR tests were offered to the residents in some affected streets in the city. The aim was to detect asymptomatic infections that were not detectable by means of a rapid antigen test and to trace possible cross-connections to other index cases. Thus, if necessary, measures can be considered that help to contain the infection.
Wastewater samples can make virus variants recognizable at an early stage: Since mid-April, ELW’s wastewater treatment plants have been sampled weekly for the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 in an innovative wastewater testing project in support of the containment measures of the health department. The investigations of the waste water can thus act as an early warning system and also reach people who are not reached by testing in a test site. The project is scientifically supported by TU Darmstadt, which analyzes the samples for SARS-CoV-2 fragments using genome sequencing.
Genome sequencing implies the great advantage that all known SARS-CoV-2 virus variants are detectable in occurrence and concentration. The state capital Wiesbaden uses this specifically to investigate the occurrence of the novel Delta variant in the urban area in this context. Currently, the data of the samples taken are in the evaluation stage.
Vaccination can protect against infection and severe disease progression: Dr. Oliver Franz and Professor Christoph Sarrazin urge citizens to make use of the possibilities of a protective vaccination, as these also offer good protection against novel virus variants and significantly mitigate the course in the event of an infection.