German health officials have warned that the current wave of Covid-19 cases could overwhelm the country's health-care system unless residents act quickly to reduce their contacts.
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman said that the military has begun transferring intensive-care patients inside the country from places where hospital capacity is most strained. On Friday, an A310 Airbus/MedEvac flight will transport 10 patients from Memmingen, Bavaria, to Muenster/Osnabrueck. Three German Air Force jets are ready to take off.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said, "we need to stop this wave now. Otherwise, we'll see what we've always wanted to prevent: the health-care system becoming overburdened."
Germany, whose Covid vaccine program has fallen behind those of its neighbours France and Spain, is now facing a double pandemic punch. Many of its hospitals are straining under the weight of an increasing number of Covid cases, even as it joins the EU in limiting travel from southern Africa due to fears about a new variant that has emerged there.
This month, daily cases in Germany have consistently surpassed previous highs. Deaths have also increased, albeit they are still lower than previous winter. Authorities are recommending a return to the basics of social distancing in an effort to curb the current surge of cases, without explicitly calling for a lockdown.
The Robert Koch Institute's head, Lothar Wieler, stated, "We need a huge reduction in interactions, immediately. We’re standing at a crossroads. We have a decision to make. We can go down a road that leads to chaos and disaster," he added.
In the coming days, Spahn has asked for a meeting of regional leaders, which will be required to proceed toward a lockdown.