Covid: Disease control chief says Germany is ‘one big outbreak’

Germany is being urged to ‘pull the emergency break’ to stop soaring Covid cases

Laurie Churchman
Friday 19 November 2021 12:43
<p>Head of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler </p>

Head of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler

The head of Germany’s disease control agency says the country has entered a “nationwide state of emergency” because of surging coronavirus infections.

“All of Germany is one big outbreak,” the head of the Robert Koch Institute Lothar Wieler told reporters in Berlin today. “This is a nationwide state of emergency. We need to pull the emergency brake.”

Regular medical care can no longer be guaranteed in parts of the country, he said, because hospitals and intensive care wards are overstretched.

He called for urgent additional measures to tackle the rise in Covid cases, which have topped 50,000 for the third day running.

His comments came as the upper house of Germany’s parliament approved new measures to control the outbreak on Friday.

They include requirements for people to prove they are vaccinated, recently recovered from Covid or have tested negative for the virus in order to access communal workplaces or public transport.

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 states that restrictions for unvaccinated people will be introduced in areas where hospital admissions exceed a set threshold.

Some states are also considering mandatory vaccinations for some professional groups such as medical staff and nursing home employees.

Mrs Merkel described the situation with Covid in the country as “dramatic.”

Neighbouring Austria, which has also been hit by a surge in new cases, announced it would extend a nationwide lockdown to vaccinated people from Monday, and introduce compulsory vaccinations from February.

Cases have been soaring across Europe, and the World Health Organisation has said the continent is once again “at the epicentre” of the pandemic. The WHO says coronavirus deaths in Europe rose by 5% last week, making it the only region in the world where Covid mortality increased.

Boris Johnson spoke of “storm clouds” of Covid infections gathering over parts of Europe last week, saying he was concerned about the wave of cases across central and eastern Europe. Many countries are preparing to reintroduce restrictions before Christmas.

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