German Health Minister pleads for lockdown ‘to break Covid wave’

Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn and medical experts have renewed calls for drastic measures to gain control over spiralling coronavirus cases as hospital beds fill up.

German Health Minister pleads for lockdown 'to break Covid wave'
Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday. Photo: DPA

“We need a lockdown in order to break this wave,” said Health Minister Spahn, saying that tougher measures could provide a “bridge” to an eventual reopening of public life.

Official figures on Friday showed 25,464 new cases in the past 24 hours, while intensive care doctors warned that hospitals could soon be inundated.

“We are profoundly concerned about the current situation,” said Gernot Marx, president of Germany’s intensive medicine association DIVI.

“We are on the brink of overwhelming our health system,” he added, explaining that Germany currently had only 3,000 free intensive care beds after a “dramatic rise” in admissions in recent weeks.

In an “urgent appeal” to political leaders, he called for a “hard lockdown of two to three weeks”.

READ ALSO: German virologist warns of ‘permanent lockdown’ amid rising Covid infections

The head of the Robert Koch Institute infectious disease agency, Lothar Wieler, also called for tighter measures in the face of a “very serious situation”.

“If we don’t go into lockdown, a lot of people will lose their lives,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, German leaders agreed to tighten the national coronavirus law in a bid to give the federal government powers to enact health measures.

Member comments

  1. THEN DO IT!! All this talk and no action by German politicians has got us to this point. Half measures, pussyfooting, and pandering has us six months lock down. Take responsibility and DO SOMETHING!

  2. Do a 3 weeks lockdown and vaccinate at least 10 million people in these 3 weeks. No point in partial lockdown. Do a complete lockdown and have an opening plan with a high vaccination option.

  3. AGAIN. Closing Shops etc. is not the way. People behave there. It is the visits to other people’s Homes, people hanging out in Parks, Parties at Flats that are the problems. That is what should be monitored & heavily punished.

  4. I thought we have been in a lockdown for months? Doing more of the same and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. That just forces people into smaller spaces and riskier behaviors, and it creates a different set of health and mental issues as people are not getting screenings of treatments for other diseases. The state of Texas has been fully open, no masks are required, and the number of cases has been dropping. Of course the vaccination campaign across the USA has been a lot more successful than on this side of the world.

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Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now