Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged the government-in-training to quickly tighten measures to combat the surge in Covid-19 infections as the country crosses the 100,000 virus-related death mark.
“It’s a very sad day,” the departing leader said at a press conference in Berlin.
“Every day counts”
The health authority (RKI) announced earlier that 100,119 people had succumbed to Covid-19 in Germany since the start of the pandemic, after having recorded 351 deaths in the last 24 hours.
“Every day counts”, warned Angela Merkel, who wants an additional turn of the screw and let it know to her successor, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz. “I made it clear to her that we could manage this together, during this transition phase, and that we would look at all the necessary measures,” she explained.
In one day, the RKI also identified 75,961 new contaminations, a new high, at a time when the largest European economy fears a saturation of hospitals. The seven-day incidence also reached a record high at 419.7. In Saxony, in the former GDR, it exceeded the threshold of 1,000.
Difficult start for the new coalition
The situation weakens the new government coalition associating Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals which will take the head of the country in December.
“We are starting this government with undoubtedly the most serious health crisis that Germany has known”, judged the co-president of the Greens Robert Habeck during a congress on Thursday, the day after the presentation of a coalition agreement. government which will be put to the vote of the militants.
At this point, the German regions are in control and most of them reinstated strict restrictions after a crisis meeting last week with Angela Merkel.
“Do everything” in the face of the pandemic
In most of the country, the unvaccinated can no longer access, even with a negative test, shows, restaurants, gyms, or even hairdressers. Some districts have resolved to close clubs, bars and cultural establishments for a few weeks. Almost 69% of the German population is fully vaccinated, less than in other European countries, such as France, where the rate reaches 75%.
Olaf Scholz has promised to “do everything” in the face of the pandemic. So far the new coalition has sought to avoid nationwide lockdown, and is attracting criticism for its alleged inaction.
For Robert Habeck, the catalog of current measures can still stem the fourth wave of the virus. Otherwise, “we will have to talk in the coming days of other measures,” he warned. The head of government of Bavaria Markus Söder has already called for the next crisis meeting between state and regions, scheduled for December 9, to be brought forward.
The healthcare sector in Germany has sounded the alarm over the saturation of some hospitals in the worst-affected regions of the south and east, as the country faces a shortage of caregivers which is reducing the number beds available in intensive care.
Some establishments face “an acute overload” which required the transfer of patients abroad, also indicated Gernot Marx, who heads the German association of intensive care medicine.
The president of the teaching staff Heinz-Peter Meidinger for his part warned against a runaway of infections in schools, under 12 years not yet having access to the vaccine in the country.
“The loss of control is already there”
“The loss of control is already there, while some schools have to close because of outbreaks of infections,” he lamented, in an interview with Passauer neue Presse.
The health crisis has sparked a debate on the relevance of introducing compulsory vaccination for all, as Austria has just decided. The national leaders had agreed with the heads of regions, responsible for health matters, to study this option, already valid for the soldiers of the Bundeswehr and, soon, for the personnel of the care establishments. But the calls to go further are multiplying.
The infection of Bayern star Joshua Kimmich, who had expressed his reservations against the vaccine, is highly symbolic, Judge Der Spiegel: “Anyone who does not get vaccinated will end up catching the Covid”.