Germany Heads Toward New Pandemic Measures as Omicron Threatens - BLOOMBERG
JANUARY 03, 2022
BY Bloomberg News
(Bloomberg) -- Germany is contemplating further measures to contain Covid-19 as the omicron variant threatens to become the dominant strain in the country by mid-January.
When Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets with state leaders on Friday to discuss the pandemic, the country could shorten quarantine times to prevent staff shortages in critical services like hospitals and police, according to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.
“There are very many questions that need to be settled, and preparations are in full swing,” Lauterbach said late Sunday in an interview with RTL/ntv television.
He reiterated a call for more citizens to get vaccinated or booster shots, warning that omicron still represents a significant threat despite evidence it may cause milder symptoms than the delta variant.
Europe’s biggest economy is currently in what some officials have termed a “lockdown for the unvaccinated,” with wide-ranging limits on the size of public events and on access to non-essential stores. Tighter curbs on private gatherings went into force last week.
Germany’s outbreak has been receding since hitting record levels in late November. A slight uptick in recent days amid a growing number of omicron infections has been far less dramatic than the surges in countries like France and Britain.
Lauterbach has warned that the current data may not provide an accurate picture due to reporting delays over the Christmas holidays. The Harvard-educated epidemiologist, who had a window smashed at his parliamentary office in Cologne over the weekend, dismissed recent protests against the government’s pandemic strategy and said they won’t have any impact on policy.
Demonstrations scattered across Germany have been relatively small, typically involving a couple of hundred people at a time, but some have turned violent with marchers clashing with police.
“It’s a worrying development, but I must emphasize again and again that this is a small, radical minority,” Lauterbach said. “The majority of society is standing together against the pandemic.”