The corona situation in Germany is getting worse. On Monday, not only did the nationwide incidence rise for the first time in the pandemic, to over 200 infections among 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. The number of people suffering from Covid-19 in German clinics is also growing rapidly in some regions. In Bavaria, the hospital traffic light of the Ministry of Health jumped to red on Monday due to the high number of more than 600 corona patients in the intensive care units. This means that access and test rules are tightened throughout the Free State. The share of intensive care beds with corona patients is highest in Thuringia. On Monday morning, 21.2 percent, and thus more than one in five beds, were occupied by Covid 19 patients.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for more nationwide clarity as to when the growing occupancy of hospital beds with corona patients should lead to stricter rules. Merkel would like the federal states to agree on the importance of the so-called hospitalization index, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert. This index was introduced by mutual agreement between the federal and state governments as a new benchmark for assessing the situation. The hospitalization value indicates how many people infected with corona per 100,000 inhabitants are admitted to hospitals in a week. According to the Green parliamentary group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt, the traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP are planning to reintroduce a reserve bonus that will compensate hospitals for keeping intensive care beds free for corona patients.
Merkel is also relying on accelerating the booster vaccinations, said government spokesman Seibert. At the current “slow pace” of the so-called booster vaccinations, it should not remain. He reiterated that the Chancellor had “sympathy” for a conference with the Prime Minister to discuss, among other things, the progress of the vaccination campaign. However, there is no consensus on such a meeting among the heads of government of the countries.
On the other hand, there is broad agreement on the issue of the reintroduction of free corona tests. “We think it’s right that they should be back,” says the parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group, Marco Buschmann. This is “a joint intention of the SPD, Greens and FDP”. According to Seibert, Merkel is “very positive about such considerations”. The spokesman for Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the obligation to pay, which was decided in August and has been in force since October, was correct for reasons of fairness and as an incentive to vaccinate. But it is just as right to temporarily reintroduce the free tests in the fourth wave.
In contrast, the majority of the population reject the withdrawal of the obligation to pay. In a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov, 54 percent were in favor of maintaining the current regulation, according to which corona tests only cost nothing in exceptional cases. Only 38 percent say the tests should be free for everyone again. The introduction of a binding 3G regulation in companies would probably also be associated with free tests. In this way, access could be limited to vaccinated, convalescent and tested people without incurring additional costs for companies or employees.