Germany has seen a dramatic surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. In the past two weeks, the number of new infections in the country has jumped by over 60 percent. On Nov. 18, Germany registered more than 65,000 daily cases, which is a record since the pandemic began. Some have warned that infections could jump even more.
According to Uwe Janssens, secretary-general of the German Society for Internal Intensive Care, the COVID-19 situation is becoming “too much to handle” and “absolutely worrying.” He estimates that around 0.8 percent of the infected population have to be treated in intensive care units.
With 50,000 to 60,000 new cases per day, the number of people ending up in ICUs can be quite high, he indicated. Such high numbers will inevitably put pressure on the country’s healthcare infrastructure.
“In the south of Germany, in Bavaria, Saxony and Baden-Württemberg and other areas, the hospitals and even the intensive care units have such a high pressure, such a high load that in some regions there are zero free intensive care unit beds… So we have to postpone planned operations,” Janssens said.
Lothar Wieler, director of the Robert Koch Institute, warned during an online debate that Germany is heading towards a “serious emergency” and that the country will have to face a “terrible Christmas” if proper countermeasures are not taken now.
Germany’s case count surges
On Nov. 22, the institute reported that Germany’s seven-day infection count rose to 386.5 per 100,000 people. As of Friday, the seven-day incidence rates in more than a quarter of Germany’s districts were at over 500 new infections per 100,000 citizens.
He said that there is “really no time to lose” and that several hospitals are at a breaking point. Wieler insisted that vaccinations are “working very, very well” and that the country needs to “close the vaccination gaps now.”
Meanwhile, there are talks of introducing mandatory vaccinations, with Bavarian premier Markus Soder raising such a possibility. “Just like in Austria, we have to discuss the need for a vaccine mandate for everyone from the second half of next year,” Soder said.
During this pandemic, Soder has become popular for his outright support for strong state interventions. He warned that should the government fail to make vaccinations mandatory, there will be an “endless loop” in the corona situation.
Green Party politician and doctor Paula Piechotta supports vaccine mandates. “If we can’t achieve sufficient vaccination rates on a non-mandatory basis, we have to talk about vaccine mandates, especially for people who work in vulnerable settings like nursing homes and hospitals,” Piechotta stated. Olaf Scholz, the potential successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, also wants the option of mandatory vaccinations to be considered.
However, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has pushed back against the idea, stating that no vaccine mandates will be introduced. The government does not see them as necessary. Moreover, a vaccine mandate might be difficult to pass, Maas believes.
Health minister Jens Spahn admitted that the pandemic has become much worse and that Germany is facing a potential “national emergency.” As to the possibility of imposing a new nationwide lockdown, Spahn said that he “can’t rule anything out.”
Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 21, Germany’s daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people surged from 96.13 to 586.49. Confirmed deaths during the period rose from 0.70 to 2.40 per million people. Over 67 percent of the German population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.