Germany's health experts urge broader COVID curbs, as lockdown not excluded

Germany's health experts urge broader COVID curbs, as lockdown not excluded ...

BERLIN, Dec 22 - Germany's health experts said new coronavirus curbs probably didn't go far enough to check the Omicron variant, as health minister said that he hadn't ruled out a full lockdown if cases spiked.

The measures, which were brought into effect on Tuesday, include limits to private gatherings, closing clubs and discos, and to ban spectators at football matches.

Janosch Dahmen, health expert for the greens, said they were a step in the right direction. "But they probably won't be able to stop the danger Omicron presents," he said.

Gerald Gass, chairman of German Hospital Federation, called the measures "necessary, but possibly not sufficient" in his remarks for the Funke media group.

Germany reported 45,659 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday near recent peaks. The death toll rose by 510, and both men said the government should be ready to stop the epidemic if it worsens.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases recommends "maximum contact restrictions" and "maximum infection prevention measures" are executed soon.

Aside from the fact that the curbs are partly affected by the partial nature, health minister Karl Lauterbach said he valued the institute's advice but "sometimes we may not apply."

He said in separate comments for the radio show ARD: "We've decided that the change will come to light quickly. But I don't even think a hard lockdown is likely to be discussed if the case numbers fall in that direction."

Stefan Genth was the chief executive of the Retail Association (HDE), which supported the government.

"The federal government and the states make clear that returning to a blanket and disproportionate lockdown isn't a solution," he said.

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