BERLIN — German health officials are warning of a steep rise in intensive care patients and calling for action to contain coronavirus infections, even as the country’s vaccination drive finally picks up steam.
Germany has seen new infections rise considerably in recent weeks as a more infectious variant first detected in Britain took hold. Meanwhile, federal and state politicians are struggling to agree on how, or in some cases whether, to toughen restrictions.
Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, said Friday that “intensive care units are filling up fast” across the country. He said nearly 4,500 COVID-19 patients are receiving intensive care, with the number increasing by 700 over the past week — a 20% rise.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said “consistent and, as far as possible, uniform” measures are needed. He added that “there needs to be a lockdown to break the current wave,” and only after infections are brought down should more businesses be opened.
This week, thousands of ordinary doctors’ practices joined Germany's vaccination campaign. That helped the country to its second consecutive daily record on Thursday of 719,927 doses administered — meaning that 14.7% of the population has now received at least one dose and 5.8% have received both shots.
Spahn cautioned that there won’t be a new record every day, given that vaccine supplies to general practitioners in the first few weeks will be limited.