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BUNDESWEHR

German army offers 10,000 soldiers to help coronavirus fight

Germany's defence minister on Wednesday offered up to 10,000 soldiers to help carry out coronavirus tests in care homes as the country continues to struggle with high infection numbers.

German army offers 10,000 soldiers to help coronavirus fight
Oliver Ronneberger, a press speaker for the Bundeswehr, showed a map on Wednesday of where around Germany they would be deployed. Photo: DPA

“The Bundeswehr is ready to assist at short notice with up to 10,000 men and women in old people's homes and nursing homes if we are called upon,” a spokesman for Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told AFP.

The soldiers would be able to receive training from manufacturers in how to carry out rapid tests, easing the pressure on care home staff and helping to protect those deemed most at risk from the virus, the spokesman said.

READ ALSO: Germany calls up army reserves to help fight coronavirus

“It is the most vulnerable in the pandemic who need our help now,” he said.

It will be up to local authorities to decide whether and how to take advantage of the offer.

Some 1,156 Bundeswehr soldiers are already helping out in 267 care homes, according to the defence ministry.

The army has made 20,000 soldiers available to help in the fight against the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, but so far work has been found for only around 8,000 of them.

Germany began vaccinating citizens against Covid-19 in late December, with care home residents among the first in the queue.

A total of 758,093 people had received their first jab by Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre.

Around 366,000 of them are health workers — such as doctors, nurses and care home staff — in regular contact with vulnerable people.

Around 285,000 care home residents have been vaccinated so far.

Germany reported 19,600 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours on Wednesday and 1,060 deaths, according to the RKI.

Member comments

  1. Adrian- wanted to thank you for the Solid commentary on the mandatory FFP2 mask article. Have you been arrested yet? Fight the good fight!

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COVID-19

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”

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