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COVID: Germany to offer booster shots for all

November 5, 2021

The health minister has delivered a stark warning as the country's public health institute published its highest-ever infection rates for the second day running.

An elderly patient receives a COVID vaccine
Germany is facing 'difficult weeks ahead' according to the health ministerImage: Christoph Schmidt/dpa/picture alliance

All people in Germany will eventually be offered a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine six months after receiving their previous injection, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.

The measure had been agreed with regional health ministers, Spahn said.

"This should become the norm, not the exception," Spahn added.

Spahn delivered the message as Germany hit its highest infection rate since the start of the pandemic for the second day running.

Key points from Spahn's speech

Spahn unveiled plans for mandatory coronavirus tests for visitors and personnel in care homes, including for those who are already vaccinated or recovered. 

Care homes were one place where severe coronavirus outbreaks happened in the country.

He said that the fourth coronavirus wave has hit Germany "with full force."

There were already regions in Germany where COVID-19 patients have been transferred to different hospitals due to full intensive care units, Spahn added.

He urged German citizens to get vaccinated and observe safety regulations. 

Spahn also set his sights on people who lied about or downplayed the virus. He said that anyone "who says the virus is not that bad, is hesitant or uncertain about getting vaccinated as well as anyone who believes that they are young, healthy, invulnerable should speak to health staff, particularly those in intensive care stations."

What's the latest COVID situation in Germany?

The country's Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases on Friday reported 37,120 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. This set an all-time high, surpassing the record set the previous day.

Germany's seven-day coronavirus incidence is now at 169.9 cases per 100,000 people, up from 154.5 on Thursday.

For those people who were not yet fully vaccinated, the RKI increased its risk rating from "high" to "very high" on Friday.

Hospitalizations with the virus in a seven-day period rose to 3.73 on Thursday, up from 3.62 on Wednesday. The figure, which varies widely by region, is seen as key to deciding on measures to contain the virus and to ease pressure on the health services.

Leif Erik Sander, a physician at the Department of Infectious Disease and Respiratory Medicine at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, told DW that the situation in hospitals was now "critical."

"We are seeing rapidly increasing rates of hospitalizations, both in the normal wards as well as on the ICUs," said Sander. "So we basically have to expand our capacities here. And this also comes at a moment where across Germany, we have a severe shortage of nurses, of specialized health care personnel."

kmm/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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