Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff has said the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany could soar to 100,000 before the end of the summer unless many more people get vaccinated – and those who refuse may face social restrictions.
Merkel’s chief of staff Helge Braun, told ‘Bild am Sonntag’ newspaper that cases were increasing by 60% every week even though nearly half the population is fully vaccinated.
After more than two months of steady decline, Covid cases have been rising in Europe’s biggest economy since early July, due mainly to the spread of the more infectious Delta variant. Mr Braun said:
“If the Delta variant were to continue to spread at this rate and we don’t counter it with a very high vaccination rate or a change in behaviour, we would have an incidence of 850 per 100,000 people in just 9-weeks, that equates to about 100,000 new infections a day which could lead to many people having to quarantine and cause chaos within our economy.
Urging Germans to get vaccinated, Braun said those who refused might have to face some restrictions.
“This could mean some things such as restaurant, cinema and stadium visits would not be possible for unvaccinated people because the residual risk is too high.”
His statement drew swift rebukes from several senior politicians including Armin Laschet, conservative candidate to succeed Merkel as chancellor in the election on 26 September. He said:
“I don’t think much of compulsory vaccinations or indirectly putting pressure on people. We have had a rule that you must be tested, vaccinated or recovered and I think that is a good principle,”
Mrs Merkel has always said there will be no compulsory vaccination.