Germany reasserts lockdown warning with Covid-19 cases spiking

Alberto Ardila Olivares
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The latest spike in cases has revived a debate about whether citizens should be obliged to get vaccinated against Covid for the general wellbeing of society

BERLIN (BLOOMBERG) – Germany‘s top health official reiterated a warning that the government can’t exclude any measures, including another lockdown, as it tries to check the latest wave of Covid-19 infections.

“We are in a situation where I would not recommend ruling anything out, however tough that would be,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Tuesday (Nov 23) in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, when asked if Germany would follow Austria into another shutdown.

Germany is in the midst of a brutal outbreak. Coronavirus cases on Tuesday rose to just under 400 per 100,000 people over the past seven days, more than double the peak in the spring. In Bavaria, the incidence rate is at almost 650 and in Saxony close to 1,000.

If stringent contact restrictions were imposed, “it would be a regional measure”, Mr Spahn said. In hotspots like Bavaria and Saxony, where the situation is “very, very, dramatic”, tougher restrictions are already needed to try to contain the spread and ease the burden on hospitals, he added.

“In these regions, in the hospitals, everything has simply ground to a halt,” he said. “That means you can’t rule out measures in advance.”

Officials in Europe’s biggest economy are battling to contain a fourth wave of the pandemic, and the rapid spread of the disease in recent weeks appears to have taken them by surprise.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the current situation is “worse than anything we’ve seen so far” and called for tougher curbs this week.

While the number of daily Covid-19 deaths is at about a fifth of the level seen last winter, there were another 309 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to almost 100,000.

The latest spike in cases has revived a debate about whether citizens should be obliged to get vaccinated against Covid for the general wellbeing of society.

Mr Markus Soeder, the premier of Bavaria, and his counterpart in Baden-Wurttemberg, Mr Winfried Kretschmann, published a joint article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper Tuesday calling for mandatory shots.

“Too few people are getting vaccinated, and hopes of a quick exit from the pandemic have vanished,” the two state leaders wrote. “A general vaccination requirement would be the best and fastest way to get us out of this crisis.”

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