Germany’s COVID-19 death toll passes 100,000



In a sign of the severity of the virus wave hitting Germany, its health sector has had to call on hospitals elsewhere in the European Union for help.

Some hospitals are already facing an “acute overload” that has made it necessary to transfer COVID-19 patients abroad, according to Gernot Marx, head of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine.

Germany last week announced tougher restrictions, including requiring people to prove that they are vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or have recently tested negative for the virus before they can travel on public transport or enter workplaces.

Several of the worst-hit areas have gone further, cancelling large events like Christmas markets and barring the unvaccinated from bars, gyms and leisure facilities.

The spike has ignited a fierce debate about whether to follow Austria’s example and make vaccination mandatory for all citizens.

Incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz has voiced support for compulsory vaccinations for health staff, and said that his government would “do everything necessary to bring our country safely through this time”.

“The situation is serious,” said Scholz’s Social Democrats after announcing a coalition agreement with the Greens and the FDP liberals on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, outgoing Chancellor Merkel, who is retiring from politics after four terms, summoned the new centre-left-led alliance’s top brass for pandemic talks.

Scholz said that his new government would invest €1 billion (US$1.12 billion) in bonuses for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

But his critics accused him of lacking the urgency needed to tackle the national catastrophe.

“It sounded like he wanted to be the leader of the Hamburg health authorities,” snapped Spiegel online.

Germany’s COVID-19 crisis has in part been blamed on its relatively low vaccination rate of about 69 per cent, compared to other Western European countries such as France, where it is 75 per cent.

The country has urged all inoculated adults to get a booster to combat waning efficacy after six months.


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