ROSENHEIM (UPPER BAVARIA) – Coronavirus ghosts roam the streets of Rosenheim, amidst the eighteenth-century-style houses of this corner of Upper Bavaria famous for its Christmas markets. An intangible and unexpected fear until recently, which materializes in the form of ambulances that are not stopped at the emergency room of the RoMed Klinik, the main hospital of the city, an hour and a half drive south of Munich: “The intensive care is complete, we are forced to send away most of the patients”, explain with a bitter grin the attendants at the entrance of the square white clinic surrounded by greenery.
Because Rosenheim is one of the areas with the highest incidence of contagion in Bavaria and Germany: in the district there are over 914 new infections per 100 thousand inhabitants, almost triple the German average. In the city the incidence is 792.6, deaths are counted by the dozen. And this while every day the country beats a new record of daily infections, the latest at over 65 thousand cases.
Such numbers had never been seen in Germany or in Bavaria, the second richest region of the country, one of the economic engines of Europe. So the governor Markus Söder yesterday decreed the lockdown of the Christmas markets for three weeks, with the adjoining closure of bars, discos and clubs. Similar turning point in Saxony, another Land with very high contagion and low vaccination: here too shutters lowered to discos, bars, clubs, here too no markets. But the “Bavaria case” is even more striking. Every day a new cry of alarm comes: “The current situation is more dramatic than it has ever been during the entire pandemic,” the managing director of the Bavarian Hospital Society, Roland Engehausen, explains to local newspapers. The number of Covid patients in intensive care is increasing in this Land by 30% per week, and even oncological operations risk being postponed indefinitely. To cope with the crisis of intensive care, the chancellery has even activated the Luftwaffe, the Air Force, instructing it to support the transfer of patients where there are free places. Also in Italy. The world seems turned upside down: a year and a half ago it was German hospitals that welcomed Italian Covid patients.
In Rosenheim alone, intensive care occupancy is 97%. How was this possible? The first answer is obvious: the vaccination rate in this part of Bavaria is frighteningly low. Out of just over 200 thousand inhabitants, there are currently just over 120 thousand who boast complete immunization, just half of the population, a share of 20 points lower than the national average. And those who have obtained a third dose here can be searched for with the lantern: 9.162. At RoMed, the 6/2 North and 6/2 South wards are those dedicated to Covid, highly armored. The rules are very strict: even the few visitors admitted must wear a special apron, rubber gloves, an Ffp3 mask and a visor. When there is an absolute need to find a place in intensive care instead, doctors must take the choice of deciding which of the patients hospitalized here can be transferred to the “normal” ward. “When we have to take ten patients out of the ICU, it can also happen that one or two of them die,” she told the Time the director of the clinic, Jens Deerberg-Wittram.
“The truth is that in this part of Bavaria there is a widespread tendency to be wary of traditional medicine, the media and let alone politics”, says Josef Breiner, who works as a waiter – without a mask – in a brewery a stone’s throw from the square. of the Christmas market that this year will not be there. “Despite intensive intensive care, doubts and fears prevail. Even in the medical environment”: the words are Silvia, who works in a medical technology company in Rosenheim and who prefers not to say her surname. “Discovering that even in my sector, where studies and courses are known, there is a form of resistance to vaccination, left me amazed. And it is even more incredible considering that here the peaks have always been higher than in the rest of the Germany”.
There are those who repeat to you that in this corner of Bavaria there is the highest number of “alternative healers” in the country and a clear interest in natural remedies. Yet, perhaps, fear is beginning to break through even among the most skeptical: for a few days the queue in front of the Rosenheim vaccination center has been getting longer. Especially the elderly who want the third dose, but also some young people who seem to overcome the resistance to the injection with difficulty. Jakob, 22, shrugs: “My girlfriend shoots me if I can’t take her dancing anymore.” The discos are about to close, no one has the courage to tell them.