Germany is heading for tighter restrictions to try to contain the fourth wave of coronavirus, which is growing faster and faster. “The situation is dramatic; It is much more serious than at any other time during the pandemic, ”the Acting Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, assured this Friday. The German health authorities have hardened their speech in recent days, alarmed by the record numbers of infections that are registered every day. The incidence is almost 440 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (at 7 days, if it is calculated at 14, as in Spain, it would be almost 900), with almost 76,500 infections in just 24 hours. On Thursday the psychological barrier of 100,000 dead since the start of the pandemic was surpassed.
The overload of hospitals in some areas of the country, especially in the south and east, will force to ask for help from the Army to carry out a massive transfer of patients from the saturated centers of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia to others that still have intensive care beds available. It is the first time that the Bundeswehr has been used [el Ejército alemán] to carry out this large-scale operation, the minister has announced, since the pandemic began. Throughout Friday, 54 patients will be transferred from Bavaria, 14 from Saxony and 10 from Thuringia with different means of transport, including a medicalized military plane. Spahn recalled that beds are also becoming scarce in the rest of the country.
“How many more people have to die for us to change our behavior?” Asked Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control, during a press conference this morning in Berlin. “What number of deaths would convince us that covid-19 is not a minor disease?”, He insisted, addressing the millions of Germans who remain unvaccinated: 68.3% of the population has received the puncture, opposite 80% of Spain.
Eight million have the booster vaccine in Germany, recommended for everyone over 18 years of age six months after the second dose. There are 14.6 million people over the age of 18 who refuse to be immunized or are still thinking about it. Wieler, aware that his speech was being broadcast live on several television networks and on most websites of digital newspapers, has observed a minute of silence for those who died of the pandemic.
Spahn, sitting next to him, has assured that the only way to stop the growing spread of the coronavirus is “the massive reduction of contacts.” The minister has resisted using the word confinement (lockdown, a term in English used in Germany) but their silences indicated that the possibility was on the table. The situation in hospitals worsens with each passing day; many centers have already canceled scheduled operations. “For the first time, we will relocate up to 100 intensive care patients within Germany with the participation of the Bundeswehr,” the minister announced. “We have to stop this wave now,” he assured. “The longer we wait, the more drastic the necessary measures will end up being.”
The head of Health has criticized that “too little is done and often too late”, in a barrage directed at the presidents of the Länder. In recent days it has been your government, in office since the September elections, which has been accused of attending the start of the fourth wave without taking any action. For most experts and analysts, the change of government has resulted in a power vacuum practically since the electoral campaign and until well into November.
Both officials have stressed that citizens do not seem to be aware of the seriousness of the situation, because they have not changed their behavior despite the warnings. “Whoever believes that this wave only affects Bavaria and Saxony [las regiones con mayor número de casos]He’s very wrong, ”said Spahn.
The minister also announced that Germany was preparing to declare South Africa a risk zone for the new variant detected there and as of tonight it will only allow German citizens to enter the country from that region. Everybody the countries of the European Union have agreed to temporarily ban travel to and from southern Africa, as proposed early in the morning by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
“It is a necessary, preventive and proactive protection measure to prevent the new variant from entering the country,” said the German minister. To questions from journalists about the flights that are arriving during the day, such as one to Frankfurt from Cape Town, Spanh assured that the only thing that can be done is to ask passengers to be responsible, isolate themselves at home and make themselves a test, preferably a PCR.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.