On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, a health care worker will take care of a Covid 19 patient in the intensive care unit of the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany would face tough lockdown measures until the end of March if the authorities do not contain a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON – Germany got one step closer to the nationwide lockdown on Friday when Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to standardize the restrictions across the various states.
“The Infection Protection Act is being changed to give the state the necessary power,” said a government spokesman in Berlin on Friday.
The law update is expected to be approved by lawmakers next week, and a lockdown could be imposed shortly thereafter.
Earlier on Friday, German health officials said they were concerned about the rising coronavirus infections in the country and said a nationwide lockdown was needed to end the ongoing third wave.
Germany has faced high rates of Covid infection since last October, and despite an improvement in February, the number of new cases has increased since the end of March.
“Many citizens recognize the need to break this wave with additional measures, and the majority are in favor of stricter rules. A lockdown is needed to break the current wave,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn at a press conference on Friday.
This third wave of the coronavirus is putting pressure on the country’s health system at a time when regional and federal governments are arguing over what to do.
“The number of intensive care patients is increasing far too quickly. Doctors and nurses have been under constant stress for months and rightly sound the alarm,” said Spahn.
“We have to break the third wave as quickly as possible. That means: reduce contacts and reduce mobility. This is the only way to prevent further increases.”
The country reported over 30,000 new Covid cases on Wednesday and around 26,000 on Thursday.
German officials disagreed on the right approach to dealing with emerging cases, while citizens were frustrated with the different regimes between different regions.
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told CNBC earlier this week: “If we could come to similar measures in all locations, this would help a lot and make it more understandable.”
The German health authorities are pushing for an increase in vaccinations in the country, which has already paid off. On Thursday, the daily vaccination count approached 720,000 compared to around 317,000 a week ago, according to the Ministry of Health.
“I think we’re going to a situation where by the end of this month it will be 4 to 5 million doses a week,” Scholz told CNBC.
At the press conference on Friday, the Minister of Health confirmed that, according to Reuters, contract negotiations are currently taking place for the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine developed in Russia. Spahn added that there is still a question mark over whether these vaccines would be available in the coming months.
The European Medicines Agency started evaluating the Russian shot in early March and will decide whether to recommend it for use in the 27 EU member states. Although the regulator is using an urgent method to verify the effectiveness of Sputnik V, it is unclear when final approval could come.
German authorities previously announced they would consider using the Russian vaccine if the EMA concluded that the shot was effective in preventing the Covid-19 virus.