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Germany plans full Covid lockdown and mandatory vaccines

Chief physician Thomas Marx puts on his personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the room of a patient infected with the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in an intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital of Freising, in southern Germany.


Germany is on the verge of deciding on stricter Covid-19 restrictions and may even go for a full lockdown amid record daily infections and increasing pressure on hospitals.

The country’s Health Minister Jens Spahn has already issued a terrible warning to Germans this week, saying that by the end of winter “almost everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, cured or dead”. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the heads of Germany’s 16 federal states (who have been largely free to determine their own Covid measures) to decide on stricter rules by Wednesday.

Spahn reiterated the demand on Tuesday, adding that more public spaces should be reserved for those vaccinated, those recently recovered or those who have tested negative – otherwise known as the “3G rule”. From Wednesday, the 3G rules apply to all Germans going to work or using public transport.

Many German states have already restricted access to public spaces like bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums under “2G rules”, restricting access only to those who are vaccinated – “geimpft” in German – or recovered, “genesen”. A number of major German Christmas markets that have not been canceled this year have adopted 2G rules.

The 2G sign is seen during the opening of the Christmas market in Cologne, Germany on November 22, 2021, as coronavirus cases are at a high level in Germany.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Last week, the government and federal states agreed to new nationwide restrictions that would take effect based on the rate of hospitalization in the affected federal state.

Hospitals and vaccines

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 this is not only affecting Covid-19 patients,” he said. he told German radio Deutschlandfunk, according to a 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 on Tuesday) with the Seven-day incidence rate exceeding 400 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, according to the Robert Koch Institute. Almost 100,000 people in Germany have died from the virus so far.

German authorities are also reportedly considering compulsory vaccinations, having already implored those who were not yet to be vaccinated. The country has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, with 68% of its population fully vaccinated.

Like other European countries, Germany is desperately trying to increase Covid vaccinations and the deployment of boosters as winter approaches. But vaccine hesitation and the spread of the highly infectious 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 idea in Europe, but the dramatic landscape of Covid has made the debate more and more widespread, and some officials believe mandatory vaccines are 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 wanes after about six months and that they are not 100% effective in reducing the virus. transmission.

Experts say there are a number of ethical issues to consider regarding immunization mandates, but some countries have cast aside concerns in favor of the overall benefit of immunization.

Read more: Are the mandates of Covid vaccines ethical? Here’s what medical experts think

Austria has already announced that it will make Covid vaccines mandatory from February 1 next year (it also just introduced a full lockdown) and a number of countries (like Italy and France) made Covid vaccines mandatory for frontline health workers. The UK will follow suit in spring 2022.

German states have called for mandatory vaccinations for medical workers and healthcare workers, and the idea is being considered by the federal government, which previously ruled out mandatory vaccination.

The fact that some lawmakers are now calling for compulsory vaccination shows the current level of concern in Germany over the Covid crisis.

“We have reached a point where we have to make it clear that we need a de facto mandatory vaccination and a lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Tilman Kuban, head of the Christian Union youth wing, wrote on Sunday. Democrat of Merkel, in the newspaper Die Welt, noting that 90% of coronavirus patients in German intensive care beds are not vaccinated.

The unvaccinated, Kuban said, brought Germany “to the brink of despair”, adding that “it cannot be that the entire population is locked up every winter”.

The ongoing political negotiations to form a new coalition government took place against the backdrop of the Covid crisis in Germany. However, negotiations between the Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the Free Democratic Party are expected to be concluded at any time and a coalition agreement is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

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