Germany considering full Covid lockdown and mandatory vaccines
Senior physician Thomas Marx puts on his personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the room of a patient infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in an intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital in Freising, southern Germany .
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Germany will decide on stricter Covid-19 restrictions and could even opt for a complete lockdown amid record numbers of daily infections and increasing pressure on hospitals.
Olaf Scholz, Chancellor-designated of Germany, said on Wednesday that the Covid situation was serious and the country would massively push its vaccination campaign, noting that “vaccination is the way out of this pandemic”.
Scholz said Germany should “make vaccination mandatory for certain groups” without specifying which groups, while new finance minister Christian Lindner stated that Germans should avoid all unnecessary contacts this winter “to preserve all our health in this pandemic.” “.
That Scholz chose to tackle the Covid crisis when he and his new government colleagues announced a draft coalition deal on Wednesday shows where the officials’ immediate priorities lie.
Outgoing health minister Jens Spahn warned Germans this week, saying that by the end of winter “virtually everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered or dead.” Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the heads of the 16 German states (which are largely free to determine their own Covid measures) to decide on stricter rules by Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Spahn reiterated that request, adding that more public spaces should be restricted to the vaccinated, the recently recovered or those who have had a negative test – otherwise known as the ‘3G rule’. From Wednesday, 3G rules will apply to all Germans who go to the workplace or use public transport.
Many states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums under “2G rules,” restricting access to only those who have been vaccinated — “geimpft” in German — or recovered,” heal”. A number of major German Christmas markets that have not been canceled this year have adopted 2G rules.
2G sign can be seen during the opening of the Christmas market in Cologne, Germany on November 22, 2021, as coronavirus cases peak in Germany.
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Last week, the government and the federal states agreed to continue national restrictions which would come into effect based on the hospitalization rate in the respective state.
Spahn also warned of increasing pressure on hospitals in Germany, noting that “we have to move patients because the intensive care units are full and that not only affects Covid-19 patients,” he told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio, according to a newspaper. Reuters translation.
The warning comes as the number of daily Covid infections hit a new record on Wednesday, with 66,884 new cases (a huge number for Germany and a big jump from the 45,326 new cases reported Tuesday), lifting the seven-day incidence of 400 for the the first since the start of the pandemic, according to the Robert Koch Institute. In Germany, nearly 100,000 people have died from the virus so far.
German officials are also said to consider mandatory vaccinations, having already begged those who had not yet been vaccinated to take a shot. The country has one of the persistently lower vaccination rates in Western Europe, with 68% of the population fully vaccinated.
Like other European countries, Germany has been desperately trying to boost Covid vaccinations and the use of booster shots as winter approaches. But hesitation about vaccines and the spread of the highly contagious delta-Covid variant, which is much more virulent than previous strains, make the task much more difficult.
The idea of mandatory vaccinations has been a controversial one in Europe, but the dramatic Covid landscape has caused the debate to widen, with some officials saying mandating vaccines is the only way to stop the virus.
Covid vaccines significantly reduce the risk of serious infection, hospitalization and death from the virus, but we also know that vaccine immunity declines after about six months and they are not 100% effective at reducing transmission.
Experts say there are a number of ethical questions regarding vaccine mandates, but some countries have sidelined concerns in favor of the overall benefit that vaccination provides.
Austria has already announced that it will make Covid vaccines mandatory from February 1 next year (it has also just implemented a full lockdown), and a number of countries (such as Italy and France) have made Covid vaccines mandatory for frontline health workers. The UK will follow in the spring of 2022.
German states have called for mandatory vaccinations for medical and healthcare personnel, and the idea is being considered by the federal government, which had previously ruled out mandatory vaccination.
That some lawmakers are now calling for mandatory vaccination shows the current level of concern in Germany over the Covid crisis.
“We have reached a point where we have to say clearly that we need de facto mandatory vaccination and a lockdown for unvaccinated,” said Tilman Kuban, head of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union youth wing. wrote in the newspaper Die Welt on Sunday, noting that 90% of coronavirus patients in German intensive care beds are unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated, Kuban said, brought Germany “to the brink of despair,” adding that “the entire population cannot be locked up every winter.”