| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Merkel makes farewell plea for Germans to get vaccinated

On Saturday, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel encouraged Germans to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to help reverse the tide on a fourth wave of infections that she described as “dramatic” in some regions of the country.

“We are in a critical situation. In certain regions of the nation, the situation is nothing short of dramatic: overcrowded intensive care units, critically ill patients who must be airlifted across Germany to receive the care they require “She said.

“That is why I appeal to you once again: treat the dangerous virus seriously,” Merkel said in the final of more than 660 podcasts she has made before passing over to Social Democrat Olaf Scholz next week.

“Get yourself vaccinated. It doesn’t matter if it is a first shot or a booster. Every vaccine helps.”

German officials agreed on Thursday to bar unvaccinated people from accessing all but the most essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and bakeries, and also decided to seek to make vaccination mandatory.

Germany recorded 64,510 new infections on Saturday and another 378 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 102,946.

German hospitals are under increasing strain, with patients being moved from intensive care to ordinary wards earlier than medically advisable, Gerald Gass, head of the German Association of Hospitals, told the Watson news site.

“We are heading towards disaster medicine in some hotspots,” Gass said.

The surge in coronavirus cases in recent months has been particularly pronounced in the former Communist east, where rates of vaccination are lower and support is strong for the far-right Alternative for Germany, which has opposed lockdowns.

Police broke up an unauthorized protest by opponents of coronavirus restrictions late on Friday outside the home of Petra Koepping, the health minister in the eastern state of Saxony, which currently has the highest rate of new cases.

  • Reuters