'Christmas will be ruined if we don't act now', warns head of German health agency
The President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has painted an alarming picture of the Covid-19 situation in Germany, warning that Christmas will be ruined if tough measures aren’t taken immediately.
The usually reserved head of the RKI, Lothar Wieler could not disguise his frustration about Germany’s rapidly worsening Covid situation - and called for clubs and bars to be closed.
He told Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) that “we will have a very bad Christmas if we don’t start taking countermeasures now” in an online discussion on Wednesday evening.
"There is an emergency in our country. Anyone who doesn't see that is making a very big mistake,” he said.
On Thursday morning, the RKI reported a nationwide 7-day incidence of 336.9 - an increase from 319,5 the previous day. Germany also reported 65,371 new Covid infections within a day: the first time this number has gone above 60,000 since the start of the pandemic.
But Wieler also warned that the under-reporting of new infections is intensifying, saying that "there are at least twice or three times as many" as the official figures show.
The RKI chief also gave a worrying assessment of the situation in the nation's hospitals, saying "we have never been as worried as we are now”.
He said that the number of critically ill Covid patients is rising. In some places, people who have had strokes - or other serious conditions - have to spend up to two hours searching for a free intensive care bed, Wieler said.
Wieler accused politicians of making serious errors in their handling of the pandemic.
"We opened up too quickly in too many areas...clubs and bars are hotspots, from my point of view they have to be closed," he said.
He also pleaded for "every man and mouse” who is eligible for vaccination to get their jabs, and for the enforcement of 2G rules, which means access to many public areas is only for the vaccinated (geimpft) and people who've recently recovered from Covid (genesen).
"We really can't give those who don't get vaccinated the chance to bypass vaccination, for example, by getting free tests," Wieler said.
As of Wednesday, 56.4 million people (67.8 percent of the total population) were fully vaccinated. In total, at least 58.4 million people (70.3 percent) have received at least one dose.
Wieler also recommended that, to increase the pace of jabs, including booster vaccines, vaccinations should also be available in pharmacies.