German support grows for mandatory vaccines as cases jump

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BERLIN, Nov 24 (Reuters) – A leader of Germany’s Greens, set to be part of a new government, expressed support on Wednesday for mandatory vaccinations as the number of infections jumped again.

Germany registered 66,884 new coronavirus infections and 335 more deaths related to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths close to 100,000, according to figures by the Robert-Koch-Institute of infectious diseases on Wednesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is preparing to hand over to a new government of Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, called in the leaders of these parties on Tuesday to discuss the pandemic.

Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the parliamentary leader of the Greens, said continual lockdowns and restrictions on social contact were a bigger imposition than demanding vaccination.

“This is a proposal not for right now,” she told radio station Deutschlandfunk.

Initially, it would be about mandatory vaccinations for example in care facilities to protect particularly sensitive groups. Introducing a compulsory vaccination would not mean that this would be enforced by police, she added.

Germans have been waiting in line for hours to get vaccinated in recent days, with about 68% of the population fully vaccinated, below the average in western Europe.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Ethics Council indicated it could reconsider its rejection of compulsory vaccination.

“We are really thinking about it, because we see that the numbers are rising and we have this very acute crisis situation,” the deputy chairperson of the Ethics Council, Susanne Schreiber, told RTL television.

Neighbouring Austria has reimposed a full lockdown due to surging caseloads and has said it will introduce compulsory vaccination next year.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Photo – A sign reading ‘Mask Required’ is placed at the entrance of the Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany. Germany has witnessed a rising number of COVID-19 infections amid the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. EPA-EFE/CONSTANTIN ZINN

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