On Thursday, Saxony recorded a seven-day incidence of more than 1000 new infections for the first time, and as things stand, this number will continue to rise in the next few days.

The number of new infections every day is currently about four times as high as at the peak of the second wave at the end of last year. The fact that the clinics can still accept the resulting patients is also due to the fact that the vaccination means that there are no longer as many as back then are.

However, the vaccination quota in the Free State is still below 60 percent - too little to contain infections, especially those with a severe course, so that the hospitals no longer fill up.

Stefan Locke

Correspondent for Saxony and Thuringia based in Dresden.

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The latter, however, is happening at an undiminished speed, said Saxony's Minister of Health Petra Köpping (SPD) on Thursday. A good 1900 beds in normal and 533 in intensive care units in Saxony are occupied by corona patients, which is an increase of 300 to normal and almost 70 in intensive care units within a week. “That is an insane number,” said Köpping. "Anyone who still believes the situation is not serious should find out more directly in the clinics." For the hospital admissions expected in the next few days, 4,000 additional beds have been reserved in rehabilitation clinics, but only in normal wards. "The intensive care units in the rehabilitation clinics are also already fully occupied," said Köpping.

Due to the "very, very tense situation", ten corona patients would be relocated to other federal states on Thursday as a precaution, and another 20 per week have been registered for relocation.

All of this serves to prevent the hospitals from collapsing.

In addition, there are offers from Italy, Poland and Portugal to take in Saxon patients.

In the previous year, Saxony had admitted corona patients from the particularly affected Italian regions.

Köpping said she was happy about this solidarity, which shows that the European Union works.

"You see that there is great danger"

A triage, how much the President of the Saxon State Medical Association had brought into play at the beginning of the week, is currently not up for debate. "We have mobilized everything we have in order not to get into such a situation," said Köpping. But it is now up to everyone to adhere to the measures and not to visit Christmas markets and major events outside of Saxony, otherwise you will soon actually find yourself in a situation in which you can no longer do something for all patients.

“You can see that there is great danger,” said Köpping, who also considers a complete lockdown to be “urgently necessary”. At the moment, all measures allowed by the current Infection Protection Act have been exhausted. Since Monday, cultural and leisure facilities as well as sports facilities have been closed to everyone in Saxony, retailers and restaurants are only allowed to open for a shortened period and only for vaccinated or convalescent people. Unlike in the previous year, however, the state basically keeps schools and kindergartens open. However, infections are spreading so rapidly there that 110 schools have already had to close completely and 193 partly for quarantine purposes.

Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) no longer rules out a complete lockdown. "In fact, there aren't many other options," he told the Saxon newspaper. Up to 15 percent of infections in Germany happen in Saxony. If it is not possible by next week to reduce the number of contacts to such an extent that the number of new infections falls, “we have to have this discussion”. On the question of compulsory vaccination, Kretschmer said it was right to lead the discussion now. "But personally, in my experience, I have always been the one who does not act with coercion, but with conviction and knowledge," he said. "The measures that we have now initiated should not divide, but should be very clearly geared towards a medical need to fight the pandemic."

Health Minister Köpping, in turn, spoke out clearly in favor of compulsory vaccination.

"I think it's a big mistake that we ruled that out so clearly at the beginning of the pandemic," she told the weekly newspaper Zeit.

"I did that too, and I regret it." Otherwise, the current vaccination quota, at least in Saxony, will again be subject to restrictions next autumn.

"Nobody can really want that."