Germany’s hospitals brace for COVID-19 peak at Christmas

Nearly 925,000 individuals currently sick due to disease, but real number might be 2-3 times higher, top health expert says.

Germany’s hospitals brace for COVID-19 peak at Christmas

Germany is likely to see a sharp rise in the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in the next three weeks, acting Health Minister Jens Spahn warned on Friday.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Spahn said the recently agreed measures will show their impact only after a couple of weeks, while an upward trend in hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions still continues.

“The situation in intensive care units is likely to reach a tragic peak around Christmas,” he said, adding that many hospitals in coronavirus hotspots are already overwhelmed and have run out of ICU beds.

He urged citizens to follow hygiene and social distancing rules and avoid unnecessary contact with others to stem the spread of the virus.

Many hospitals are currently operating in crisis mode and postponed non-critical operations, while several hospitals were also considering delaying surgeries for cancer and heart patients.

There were 4,797 seriously ill coronavirus patients in ICUs across the country on Friday, with 2,564 of them on ventilators, according to the DIVI association for emergency medicine.

The Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control agency, confirmed 74,352 new infections and 390 coronavirus-related fatalities in the past 24 hours.

According to the institute, nearly 925,800 individuals are currently sick due to COVID-19, an alarming figure not seen in the previous three waves of the pandemic.

Dr. Lothar Wieler, the head of the institute, said the actual number of active cases might be two to three times higher than this figure, due to undetected or unreported cases.

Germany has seen a rapid increase in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, as people spend more time indoors during the colder months and a considerable segment of the population remains unvaccinated.

The German government’s goal has been to vaccinate at least 75% of the population to prevent an exponential rise in new cases during winter.

But as of Thursday, 57.2 million people, or 68.8% of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Germany's overall vaccination rate lags behind many other EU members, including Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and Malta.

Hüseyin Demir