German citizens have been asked to avoid all non-essential contacts as the fourth wave of Covid-19 hit the country with full force.

German health officials on Friday urged residents to avoid all non-essential contact and parliament passed a new package of public health measures.

The head of the German disease control body, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) Lothar Wieler said in Berlin that this is a national emergency. He called for people to stay at home to the extent possible and for poorly ventilated cafes to close.

Lothar Wieler said that hospitals were full in many regions and increasing vaccination rates were insufficient to contain the pandemic, as a campaign to administer booster shots to the vulnerable gathered pace. The overall rate for those fully vaccinated remained static at around 68 per cent.

The head of RKI said that all of Germany is one big outbreak. We have to hit the emergency brakes while drawing back from calling for a full lockdown.

Outgoing Health Minister Jens Spahn appeared to be hinting at a lockdown when he made a call for “a joint national effort” and warned that vaccination alone would be unable to break the wave.

The southern state of Bavaria cancelled all its Christmas markets and ordered the closure of clubs and bars. State premier Markus Soeder said the closures would last for an initial period of three weeks.

The RKI declared Belgium and parts of the Netherlands to be high-risk regions. Greece and Ireland are also rated high-risk. Unvaccinated travellers returning from high-risk regions are forced to quarantine.

In Germany, the RKI advised all those planning to visit a care home to take a Covid test, even if they have been vaccinated, with the aim of protecting the vulnerable.

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