A health worker treats a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany, on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany faces a tough lockdown until the end of March if the authorities fail to do so. contains a fast-spreading variant of the corona virus.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON – Germany is one step closer to a national lockdown on Friday as Chancellor Angela Merkel moves to standardize state restrictions.
“The infection protection law will be amended to give the federal state the necessary powers,” a government spokesman said in Berlin on Friday.
The law reform is expected to be approved by lawmakers next week and the lockdown could take effect soon after.
Earlier on Friday, German health authorities said they were worried about a spike in coronavirus infections in the country and said a national lockdown was needed to end the ongoing third wave.
Germany has been facing a high rate of Covid infection since last October and, despite the increase in February, the number of new cases has risen since late March.
“Many citizens recognize the need to break this wave with additional steps and the majority support tougher rules. One closure is needed to break the current tide,” Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister, said at a news conference Friday.
This third wave of the coronavirus is putting pressure on the country’s health system at a time when regional and federal governments clash over appropriate action to take.
“The number of intensive care patients is increasing too fast. Doctors and nurses have been under constant pressure for months and precisely sounded the alarm,” said Spahn.
“We have to break the third wave as quickly as possible. That means: reduced contact and reduced mobility. This is the only way to prevent further increases.”
The country reports more than 30,000 new Covid cases on Wednesday and around 26,000 on Thursday.
German officials have been divided over the right approach to handling the escalating cases citizens become frustrated with the different arrangements among different regions.
Speaking to CNBC earlier this week, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said: “If we can take similar action everywhere, this will really help and make it more understandable.”
It comes as German health authorities are pushing for an increase in vaccinations in the country, which are already bearing fruit. As of Thursday, the daily inoculation count is approaching 720,000 compared with about 317,000 a week ago, according to data from the ministry of health.
“I think we’re going to get to a situation where, by the end of this month, it’s going to be 4 to 5 million doses a week,” Scholz told CNBC.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, the health minister confirmed that contract negotiations to buy the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine are ongoing now, according to Reuters. Spahn added that there are still question marks whether this vaccine will be available in the coming months.
The European Drug Administration began assessing the Russian fire early March and will decide whether to recommend it for use in the 27 EU member states. Although regulators are using an urgent method to check the efficacy of Sputnik V, it’s unclear when it will get final approval.
Authorities in Germany previously said they would consider using the Russian vaccine if the EMA concluded that the injection was effective at preventing the Covid-19 virus.