BERLIN (NWN) – Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday called on all uneducated Germans to get their shots at them as soon as the country’s coronavirus infection rate hit the latest in a string of new highs and the death toll continued to rise.
“If we stand together, if we think about protecting ourselves and taking care of others, we can save a lot of our country this winter,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.
Still, the chancellor warned that “we have very difficult weeks ahead of us.”
Germany’s Centers for Disease Control said the country’s infection rate climbed to 277.4 new cases per 100,000 residents in seven days, up from 263.7 the previous day.
The Robert Koch Institute reported 45,081 new infections two days after the daily total topped 50,000 for the first time.
Another 228 COVID-19 deaths took Germany to 97,617 so far in the pandemic.
While the infection rate is not yet as high as in some other European countries, its continued increase in Germany has raised alarm bells. Outgoing Chancellor Merkel plans to meet with the governors of the country’s 16 states next week, and parliament is considering legislation that would provide a new legal framework for sanctions over the winter.
The German magazine Der Spiegel reported that the army wants to mobilize 12,000 troops by Christmas to help overburden hospitals, support vaccination and testing efforts in nursing homes, and provide health offices with contact tracing of infected people. To help stop the virus.
More than 10,000 soldiers from Germany’s Bundeswehr army have helped in past waves of the coronavirus pandemic, but the mobilization underscores that officials expect the pandemic situation to worsen in the coming weeks.
Already, several hospitals in the hard-hit eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia as well as Bavaria have begun to move intensive care patients to other regions of the country, as they are full, German news agency DPA reported. . Planned surgeries have also been postponed so that medical staff can focus on COVID-19 patients again.
Merkel expressed concern about the high number of intensive care patients and the rising death toll – especially in areas with low vaccination rates.
“Think about it again,” Merkel told those who still hadn’t gotten the jab. “We just need to grab it, grab it fast.”
“I’m asking you: join us, and try to convince relatives and friends too,” she said.
The chancellor also called on those who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 to get a booster shot.
Booster vaccinations “are a real chance to break the pandemic’s severe fall and winter wave,” Merkel said.
Germany has recently struggled to bring new momentum to its vaccination campaign, with more than two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated. It has so far avoided ordering a vaccine mandate for any professional group.
Children under the age of 12, who have not yet been vaccinated in Germany, are the most affected group.
The head of the German teachers’ union warned on Saturday that local health offices are struggling to keep control in schools across the country amid multiple outbreaks.
“The reality is that we are already on the verge of losing control in some hotspot areas,” Heinz-Peter Meidinger told the weekly paper Welt am Sonntag. “We no longer know how to prevent infection outbreaks in schools.”
Also on Saturday, the government again started offering free rapid COVID-19 testing. He was removed a month ago in an effort to persuade more people to get vaccinated.
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