Germany’s top health officials said Friday a nationwide lockdown of two to four weeks is necessary to bring a new wave of COVID-19 infections under control.
Health Minister Jens Spahn and Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for Infectious Disease President Lothar Wieler told reporters in Berlin there were 25,000 new infections reported as of Friday, which Spahn said were too many. He said a nationwide lockdown is needed to get the rate of infection permanently below 100 per 100,000 people.
Spahn said the infection rates are being felt most in the hospitals and intensive care units, which he said are currently treating nearly 4,500 patients across the country. Wieler said RKI hospital surveillance data indicates more and more of these seriously ill patients are young people.
He said that fact adds more stress to hospitals because young patients tend to require respiratory care longer than older ones.
Spahn said that burden on the hospitals is why nationwide action is needed. “This is why we must break this third wave as quickly as possible. This means reducing contacts and limiting mobility."
But Germany’s federal government and regional governments are divided on new COVID-19-related restrictions. Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for a tighter lockdown as some regions and cities unilaterally ease restrictions.
Meanwhile, Spahn said vaccinations in Germany were “on a good path, with thousands of ordinary doctor practices this week joining the vaccination campaign.”
Germany now has almost 15 percent of its population vaccinated with one dose and 5.8% have received both shots.