A fourth wave of coronavirus is hitting Germany and largely infecting the country’s unvaccinated population, the health minister said.
Jens Spahn said there was a huge pandemic of the unvaccinated across Germany and called for new curbs targeting those not yet inoculated.
His appeal comes as Europe suffers a rise in case numbers for the fifth consecutive week, the only world region where Covid-19 is still increasing, according to World Health Organisation figures.
“We are currently experiencing mainly a pandemic of the unvaccinated and it is massive,” he said, warning that “in some regions in Germany intensive care beds are running out again.”
More than 66 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, but a large portion of Germany's unvaccinated adults say they have no intention of getting a jab.
“For the unvaccinated, the risk is high that they will become infected in the coming months,” said Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute, which advises the government on public health.
Mr Spahn called for “more consistent” checks on vaccine passes that must be used at some entertainment venues.
In some hard-hit regions, he said access should be limited to those who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of recovery – a system that excludes the unvaccinated.
“It's nothing to do with vaccine bullying,” he said, “but with avoiding an overloading of the healthcare system,"
To protect elderly residents in care homes, and avoid a repeat of the deaths seen in such facilities in the early stage of the pandemic, Mr Spahn wants mandatory tests on all visitors and staff, including the vaccinated.
He also supported a push on booster jabs, saying the current pace “is insufficient".
Germany, with a population of 83 million people, has been grappling with a fourth wave of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks during which the seven-day incidence rate has hit highs not seen since May.
The country added 20,398 cases over the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch health institute said on Wednesday, while another 194 people died.
Germany is in a political stalemate after a general election in September, with parties still thrashing out the new coalition government.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Germany's coronavirus trend “very worrying” but government officials have insisted that there will be no further lockdowns or mandatory vaccinations.