German Officials: Current COVID Surge Is ‘National Emergency’

German health officials said Friday the current COVID-19 situation in the country is a national emergency and called for immediate measures to be taken to mitigate the situation — including lockdowns, even for people who have been vaccinated.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI) reported 52,970 new COVID-19 cases Friday, the third straight day new infections topped 50,000.  The infection incidence rate remains just more than 340 per 100,000.

At a news conference Friday in Berlin, RKI President Lothar Wieler did not hold back his concern, saying, “All of Germany is one big outbreak. This is a nationwide state of emergency. We need to pull the emergency brake.”

Wieler told reporters they estimate there are more than half a million active COVID cases in Germany, the highest number ever recorded. He said among children aged 5-14, the incidence rate is more 700 per 100,000.

At the same news conference, Health Minister Jens Spahn was asked if Germany would consider returning to lockdowns, as neighboring Austria has done to address its own COVID-19 situation. Spahn said, “We shouldn’t rule anything out.”  

Wieler was more emphatic, saying Germany needs to “massively reduce contact to slow down the spread of the virus. This means, for example, staying at home if possible, canceling large events, reducing the number of people at small events, closing down hotspots such as bars and poorly ventilated clubs.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Thursday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states, and they agreed to introduce a new threshold linked to the number of hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

Some states also are considering mandatory vaccinations for some professional groups, such as medical staff and nursing home employees.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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