Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. PHOTO: The Economist

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that people who are not vaccinated will be excluded from non-essential shops, cultural and recreational venues, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate, as part of an effort to curb coronavirus infections that again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period.

Speaking after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Merkel the measures were necessary in light of concerns that hospitals in Germany could become overloaded with people suffering COVID-19 infections, which are more likely to be serious in those who haven’t been vaccinated.

“The situation is our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure an “act of national solidarity.”

Germany continues to see a record-breaking number of cases, particularly in its eastern states. On Wednesday, the country recorded 446 Covid-19 related deaths — its highest number of daily deaths in nine months.

Many hospitals are struggling to cope with the increasing number of intensive care patients. There could be around 6,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care by Christmas — regardless of any measures implemented by Germany’s leaders — the country’s Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency (Divi) warned Wednesday.

Already, more than 102,000 people in Germany have died as a result of coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the national disease and control center.

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