BERLIN (AP) – The German air force will begin helping transport critical care patients on Friday as the government has warned the situation in the country is more serious than at any point in the pandemic.
Citing a sharp increase in the number of cases, Health Minister Jens Spahn said there is a need to dramatically reduce human contact to curb the spread of the virus.
“The situation is extremely serious, more serious than ever during the pandemic,” he told reporters in Berlin.
Spahn said Germany had to organize large-scale transport of patients domestically for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020.
German news agency dpa reported that a Luftwaffe A310 medical evacuation plane will carry critically ill patients from the southern city of Memmingen to North Rhine-Westphalia on Friday afternoon.
Hospitals in the southern and eastern regions of Germany have warned that they do not have enough intensive care beds due to the large number of critically ill patients with COVID-19.
The country’s Disease Control Agency said there were 76,414 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours. The government agency Robert Koch Institute said Germany has also recorded 357 new deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 100,476.
Responding to a recently discovered variant that is circulating in South Africa, Spahn said airlines arriving from there would only be able to carry German citizens. Travelers will need to be quarantined for 14 days, he said, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
“The last thing we need is to introduce a new option that will cause even more problems,” he said.
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