Germany’s state and federal politicians are scrambling to put new Covid rules in place as the country experiences record case numbers, and a top virologist has warned that the nation’s pandemic death toll could double if sufficient measures are not taken.
Nearly 40,000 new cases were registered in the country on Tuesday — the third time a daily record has been set within a week. And 236 people died of the disease in that 24-hour period.
“We have a real emergency situation,” Dr. Christian Drosten, the head of virology at Berlin’s Charité hospital, Germany’s most renowned research hospital, said on a podcast that aired on Tuesday.
Since the pandemic began, Germany has reported almost 97,000 Covid deaths. Dr. Drosten warned that a further 100,000 could result if no additional solutions were found, although the number of patients in intensive-care beds is now less than half of what it was during the peak in January.
Germany’s national government, which under Angela Merkel’s guidance was seen as a model in Europe on how to deal with the pandemic, is now struggling to keep control of the situation.
The three parties that are poised to succeed Ms. Merkel’s coalition government have proposed a set of Covid rules that will be discussed in Parliament on Thursday, although they will not be voted into law before next week and do not include the kind of strict rules that many experts have called for.
The incoming parties said last month that they would let a countrywide state of emergency, which allowed for national rules to be brought in, lapse at the end of November. Under the new law, free quick coronavirus tests for all — a costly initiative that was abandoned last month in the hopes of lifting the vaccination rate — would be reinstated.
The authorities in Bavaria, where cases have been risen 68 percent over the last two weeks, declared a state of emergency on Wednesday. Markus Söder, the Bavarian governor, last declared an emergency in December 2020. Several more states, including those that have been hardest hit, either have in place or plan to enact their own stricter regulations this week. Those rules would mandate vaccinations or documentation proving a past infection for people seeking to use certain services.
“We’re about to have 16 different regulations again, and that doesn’t per se lead to more acceptance,” said Jens Spahn, the acting national health minister.
Experts say that the recent surge in infections has resulted from the relatively low vaccination rate in some regions of Germany and the slow rollout of booster shots. About 67 percent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.
Although a recent study suggested that 65 percent of unvaccinated people in the country did not plan to get a shot under any circumstance, lines at inoculation centers have been growing.
Two weeks ago, barely more than 200,000 vaccination doses were administered on some days, but on Tuesday, 312,000 shots were given in a single day, a daily total not seen since the summer.