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‘Like Vesuvius erupting’: German govt hopes to avoid ‘complete economic standstill’ but hospitals risk being overwhelmed

‘Like Vesuvius erupting’: German govt hopes to avoid ‘complete economic standstill’ but hospitals risk being overwhelmed
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said there is still hope that the country can avoid slipping into “another recession.” However, the health system could be overwhelmed unless the Covid-19 infection rate slows down.

“Infections have risen by a lot again recently…. If the pace continues, the hospitals will be overcrowded in a few weeks. It will have a major impact on social, private and economic life,” Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio on Monday when explaining Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision on impose a stricter lockdown from Wednesday until January 10.

At the same time, Altmaier noted it was still possible to avoid “another recession” if the government acts “wisely” and the promised state aid comes through. “I hope we can prevent a complete economic standstill in the second wave of the pandemic,” he said.

The minister warned it was “clear” that restrictions would likely not be relaxed after January 10 unless the situation on the ground actually starts improving. “We have to honestly say that,” Altmaier said.

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Similar concerns were voiced by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz who said Germany was at risk of losing control of the pandemic, so urgent measures were needed.

We are, in fact, facing a natural disaster. It’s like when Vesuvius erupts. You can only see that you are getting to safety, and that is what we are doing.

The government was forced to close down all non-essential shops and services after regional leaders and doctors said that hospitals were getting packed to the brim and struggling to find enough ICU beds for severely-ill patients.

On Monday, Gerald Gass, the head of the German Hospital Federation, told the media the infections will continue to rise in the next two weeks before the effect of the lockdown would be felt. “I expect the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units to rise from 4,500 to 5,000 by the end of this year,” Gass said.

The Robert Koch Institute recorded 16,362 new cases on Monday, which is roughly 4,000 more than reported on Monday last week.

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