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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Germany says pandemic not over as court OKs vaccine mandate

BERLIN ( Associated Press) – The coronavirus pandemic is not over yet, Germany’s health minister warned on Thursday as rules approved by the country’s highest court require health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach noted that there is currently a sharp increase in cases in some Asian countries, such as North Korea, but also in parts of Europe.

“Even in Germany, an average of 130 to 150 people are dying every day because of the pandemic,” Lauterbach told reporters in Berlin. “So the assumption that the pandemic has been defeated is wrong.”

Lauterbach was holding a two-day meeting with his counterparts from the Group of Seven major democracies on Thursday and Friday.

US Health Secretary Javier Becerra was due to appear in person but tested positive in Berlin on Wednesday – a day after meeting with Lauterbach and other prominent figures in Germany’s pandemic response effort. Officials said Becerra planned to attend the meetings by video.

Lauterbach said the G-7 health minister would conduct an exercise to respond to a new pandemic, which includes a hypothetical new strain of smallpox that is transmitted to humans through leopard bites and primarily affects young people.

“There is actually a realistic backdrop for such a scenario,” he said, referring to the recent outbreak of monkeypox cases reported in the UKPortugal and the United States,

Lauterbach said cases of monkeypox will also be discussed along with the increased risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans due to climate change.

Separately, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court announced on Thursday that it had dismissed complaints against mandatory vaccinations for health workers, arguing that the importance of protecting vulnerable people in hospitals and nursing homes is the rights of workers. more than any violation of

The limited mandate came into force in mid-March. The Constitutional Court had earlier refused to issue an injunction blocking its implementation, while reaching a final decision.

Lauterbach welcomed the decision, saying that “the state is obliged to protect vulnerable groups.” He thanked health facilities implementing the mandate, arguing that they helped prevent more deaths from the Omicron version.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz initially wanted to expand the vaccine mandate to all adults, but even a proposal to impose one on people age 60 and older was rejected by lawmakers.,

About 76% of Germans have so far received two shots against the coronavirus, and about 60% have received a booster shot as well. The demand for vaccination is very low at the moment, but the government approved the expenditure on Wednesday More money on new vaccines that will allow Germany to tackle a range of possible forms this fall.

Germany has seen more than 138,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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