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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Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.