Senior physician Thomas Marx puts on his personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the room of a patient infected with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in an intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital in Freising in southern Germany.
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Germany is expected to opt for tighter Covid-19 restrictions and could even opt for a full lockdown amid daily record infections and increasing pressure on hospitals.
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn already warned the Germans urgently this week: “Almost everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered or dead” by the end of winter. The outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked the heads of the 16 federal states, who were largely free to determine their Covid measures, to adopt stricter rules by Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Spahn reiterated this request, adding that more public spaces should be restricted to those who have been vaccinated, recently diagnosed, or those with a negative test – also known as the “3G rule”. From Wednesday, 3G rules will apply to all Germans who enter the workplace or use public transport.
Many federal states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums according to “2G rules” and restricted access only to those who have been vaccinated – “vaccinated” in German – or recovered, “recovered” . A number of large German Christmas markets that were not canceled this year have adopted 2G rules.
The 2G symbol can be seen during the opening of the Christmas market in Cologne on November 22, 2021, as the coronavirus cases in Germany are reaching a high peak.
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Last week, the government and the federal states agreed on further nationwide restrictions that come into force on the basis of the hospital admission rate in the respective federal state.
Hospitals and vaccines
Spahn also warned of increasing pressure on hospitals in Germany and stated that “we patients have to move because the intensive care units are full and that does not only affect Covid 19 patients,” he told 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 massive number for Germany and a big jump from the 45,326 new cases reported on Tuesday) for the first time since the pandemic began, according to Robert -Cooking Institute. Almost 100,000 people have died from the virus in Germany so far.
German officials should also think about compulsory vaccination after they had already begged those who had not yet been vaccinated to have a vaccination. The country has one of the persistently lower vaccination rates in Western Europe, with 68% of the population being fully vaccinated.
Like other European countries, Germany is also trying desperately to promote Covid vaccinations and the use of booster vaccinations in winter. But the delay in vaccination and the spread of the highly infectious Delta Covid variant, which is much more virulent than previous strains, make the task significantly more difficult.
The idea of mandatory vaccinations has been a controversial idea in Europe, but the dramatic Covid landscape has led the debate on increasing frequency, and some officials believe mandating vaccines is 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 wears off after about six months and they cannot reduce transmission by 100%.
Experts say there are a number of ethical issues to consider regarding vaccine mandates, but some countries have set aside concerns in favor of the overall benefits of vaccination.
Read more: Are Covid Vaccine Mandates Ethically Justifiable? That’s what doctors say
Austria has already announced that it will make Covid vaccines mandatory from February 1 next year (it has also just introduced a full lockdown) and a number of countries (like Italy and France) have made Covid vaccines mandatory for frontline health workers . Great Britain will follow suit in spring 2022.
The federal states have called for mandatory vaccination for medical and health workers, the idea is being examined by the federal government, which had previously ruled out mandatory vaccination.
The fact that some legislators are now calling for mandatory vaccination shows the current concern in Germany about 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 unvaccinated people,” wrote Tilman Kuban, head of the youth wing of Merkel’s CDU, in the newspaper “Die Welt” on Sunday. found that 90% of coronavirus patients in German intensive care beds are unvaccinated.
The unvaccinated brought Germany “to the brink of despair,” said Kuban. “It cannot be that the entire population is locked away every winter”.
Against the background of the German Covid crisis, political negotiations to form a new coalition government are ongoing. However, the negotiations between the Social Democrats, the Greens and the FDP should be concluded at any time and a coalition agreement should be announced on Wednesday.