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Germany considers more COVID-19 curbs, compulsory vaccines as cases soar

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By Reuters

<div> <p><span class="caps">BERLIN</span> -Health Minister Jens Spahn called on Tuesday for further restrictions as Germany’s rate of coronavirus infections hit a record high and more politicians backed compulsory vaccinations. </p> <p>The seven-day incidence rate jumped to 399.8 per 100,000 people on Tuesday, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed, the 16th straight day it has hit a record level. </p> <p>As the number of <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 deaths in Germany nears 100,000, the United States advised on Monday against travel there.</p> <p>Spahn said more public spaces should be restricted to those who were vaccinated or recently recovered from <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 and also had a negative test.</p> <p>“We are having to move patients around as intensive care units are full and that doesn’t just affect <span class="caps">COVID</span>-19 patients,” he told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio.</p> <p>On Monday, Spahn said that by the end of the winter almost everyone in Germany would be “vaccinated, recovered or dead”.</p> <p><span class="caps">CHRISTMAS</span> <span class="caps">MARKETS</span></p> <p>Neighbouring Austria has reimposed a full lockdown due to surging caseloads. Spahn has not ruled out similar steps in Germany, although he said on Tuesday that would be decided region by region. </p> <p>Many Christmas markets have been cancelled, especially in the hard-hit regions of Bavaria and Saxony. The eastern state of Brandenburg decided that children no longer have to go to school and is starting its Christmas holidays three days early.</p> <p>The force of the pandemic’s fourth wave has prompted more politicians to back compulsory vaccinations, a divisive topic that is likely to face Germany’s new government. Only 68% of the population are fully vaccinated.</p> <p>Some 7.3% of citizens have had a booster and while long queues have formed in many places for a third shot, Spahn has tried to allay concerns about supply. </p> <p>“Compulsory vaccination is not a violation of civil liberties, but the prerequisite for us to regain our freedom,” wrote the premiers of the southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.</p> <p>The <span class="caps">ALM</span> association of medical laboratories said capacity for <span class="caps">PCR</span> testing was reaching its limits with nationwide utilisation at 86%, up from 75% in the previous week, while the number of positive <span class="caps">PCR</span> tests had jumped by 31%.</p> </div>