COVID: Germany mulls new measures as infections spike

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Image source: AP.

Red Cross employee Motasen Edris stands in front of a tent at City Hall where he conducts rapid Corona tests in Biberach.

Germany on Thursday reported a record number of more than 50,000 coronavirus cases per day as lawmakers pondered a law that will pave the way for new measures to tackle the coronavirus.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national center for disease control, reported 50,196 new cases, up from 33,949 daily cases a week earlier. In recent days, infections have increased so rapidly that hospitals in the hardest-hit regions have canceled scheduled surgeries so that medical staff can focus on COVID-19 patients.

The institute also reported 237 daily deaths from COVID-19, bringing the death toll from the pandemic in Germany to 97,198. One of the country’s leading virologists, Christian Drosten, warned on Wednesday that another 100,000 people could die in the coming months if vaccination rates in the country will not accelerate quickly.

Unlike some other European countries, Germany has refused to make vaccinations mandatory for certain categories of workers and has struggled to convince more people to get vaccinated voluntarily.

According to official figures, at least 67% of the population of 83 million people are fully vaccinated.

“In Germany, unfortunately, I have to say that the vaccination rate is not high enough to prevent the rapid spread of the virus,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Wednesday night.

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is likely to become chancellor, backed Merkel, telling lawmakers to do everything possible to get more people vaccinated.

“The virus is still among us and threatens our health,” Scholz said. “We have to make sure that vaccinations are carried out and carried out at a high rate.”

A Provisional National Government rules Germany following parliamentary elections in September. The three parties expected to form the new government are seeking to replace the March 2020 “national epidemic” declaration at the end of the month with new COVID-19 action legislation.

Scholz announced that three parties – his own Social Democrats, Greens, and pro-business Free Democrats – are planning to reopen vaccination centers across the country so people can get revaccinated quickly.

Other viral measures include free tests, daily or frequent testing in nursing homes and schools, and tighter enforcement.

In Germany, throughout the pandemic, there was a patchwork of regional rules. In most places, only people who have been vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19, or recently tested negative are allowed access to many indoor spaces and activities.

Scholz said both he and Merkel agreed that the federal government and all 16 states should meet again next week to find common solutions on how to counter the surge.

“This is what we need now: for the country to stick together and move in the same direction so that we can survive this winter,” Scholz said.

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